Me and My Old Melee

My first RPG (in which you could pick among the genders) was Diablo 2. I first played a sorceress and then an amazon. I then played Guild Wars and started with a ranger and then found my true calling as a monk. Later I played World of Warcraft and fell in love with melee. I played as a feral druid: tank and damage-dealer.

Since I discovered that I love melee fighting so much, when I came back to Guild Wars I started giving its melee professions another go.

First I jumped into Prophecies (my favorite campaign) and remembered that, for some reason, melee fighters are woefully underrepresented. If you want to be up in somebody’s face, you have to be a warrior. So I made a warrior and promptly decided she wouldn’t leave pre-searing. Asma Billings is currently showing those evil black bears what for.

The warrior was nice, but couldn’t keep my attention for very long. So I rolled over to Factions and dusted off my terribly cliche’d named assassin, Silver Kris. (Silver Veil, after a character by Mercedes Lackey was already taken) It didn’t take me long to find out why she had gotten dusty in the first place. I headed out into the areas around The Marketplace for something-or-other and found myself squished. I was repeatedly, and frequently reduced to little more than a red stain on the ground. I like to be fast and I like to be deadly. Far too often I leave my henchmen behind and also end up dead. The frustration was more than I cared to deal with.

Then, a few weeks ago an old college buddy of mine succumbed to peer pressure and purchased the trilogy pack. We decided to roll characters together in Nightfall. I had already decided that I hated the paragon something fierce and I didn’t want to roll a class that I could make in Prophecies (where I preferred to level anyway), so dervish it was.

I’d like to note that I find the concept of a dervish completely ridiculous. Scythes are for mowing grass, not lopping off heads. (I’ve actually used one before, the neighbors think I’m crazy.) I have no objection to borrowing the dervish name from the Islamic Dervishes (an ascetic order similar to Christian Friars or Buddhist Monks). I think if more people became curious and studied the practices and beliefs of other cultures this world would be a much better place, but that’s neither here nor there.

The people around me instantly saw a class that wields a scythe and thought “awesome I get to be the grim reaper!”. Thus I was immediately turned off of the dervish.

I should not have been. I created a dervish (named her Cozin Tigerfeet, after my future charr character in GW2) and went to town.

I’m still trying to decide exactly what the dervish is all about. I haven’t gotten very far (I try to play with this friend I mentioned before). All I can say for sure is this class is a pleasure to play. I find the skills engaging yet not so complicated that I get frustrated. Managing multiple curses and hexes on my Me/N leaves me almost frantic but tossing up buffs and them ripping them off in the next breath with powerful attacks somehow feels natural and fun.

I’m having fun. I’m having a lot of fun, actually.

I enjoy melee, I truly do. But I don’t enjoy dying a lot, and I don’t like my avatar wearing large slabs of metal. My dearest, sincerest hope for Guild Wars 2 is in the existence of a melee-based adventurer class. Something more lithe and elegant than the warrior.

I almost panicked when I read:

no profession uses [skill chains] more than the warrior … The more melee oriented the profession is the more heavily they rely on chain skills


One could easily infer that because a)The most melee-centered profession uses the most chain skills, and b)The warrior uses the most chain skills out of anyone, therefore c)There will be no profession that is more melee-oriented than the warrior.

Combine it with the assumption that assassins are a heavily melee-based profession and you can make one of two conclusions: 1)The assassin will not exist, or 2)The assassin will not be as melee-heavy as the warrior.

I have to admit that I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the possibility of number 2. (If I can’t validate number 2 to my own satisfaction that leaves only number one, at which point I start to hyperventilate.)

Here is where I step back and analyze my own desires and motivations because I’m catching myself attempting to shoehorn existing facts into my own pet theories (a dangerous practice, best avoided).

  • I like to play melee.
  • I do not like to wear heavy armor.
  • I want there to be a melee-heavy profession that is not a soldier class.
  • I assume this non-soldier melee fighter must be an assassin.

The last bit is where I make an ass of myself.

When I think about the tiny, whirling core that is ‘assassin’ I am forced to think of daggers in the back, skulking along rooftops, poison slipped into someone’s aperitif, arrows in the dark, and rifles on hilltops. I do not think about a fast and deadly close-range fighter.

I am slowly coming to realize that if a fast and deadly close-range fighter is what I want then perhaps it will not be the assassin.

In the absence of any hard evidence I think it is likely (logically) that we will have at least one more melee profession. One out out of eight is really a poor balance between melee and ranged.

Perhaps it will be something new, like a mess-with-your-head, pistol/dagger wielding mesmer pirate. Something unique and never (or rarely) seen before could be a melee-based spell-caster.

Food for thought.

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  • Comments (7)
    • Jason
    • June 22nd, 2010

    I’m all about the “mess-with-your-head, pistol/dagger wielding mesmer” idea (take or leave the pirate concept as ninjas are far superior to pirates…don’t get me started). I’ve wanted a swashbuckling mesmer since I started GW1 and saw the concept art of the mesmer dressed in green holding a mask and rapier.

    This concept allows for the introduction of swords and pistols to the mesmer profession, providing it with more defense and soloability, and adds in new ways to interrupt your opponent (physical interrupts such as parry/riposte with a sword and quick draw with pistols). This would be a great playstyle for the mesmer without taking away the concept of the character. It also affords a new niche for players who prefer to do soft-melee in lighter armor. I frequently ran my caster professions as /W: N/W and Rt/W especially. That to me was more fun than playing an armor-clad cuisinart.

    Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one that ends posts with the phrase “food for thought.” 🙂

      • Tigerfeet
      • June 22nd, 2010

      Oy! I think that’s the first time I’ve ended like that. Normally I just trail off when I run out of things to ramble about.

      I would not be surprised if we see an assassin-type and a swashbuckler-type to poke fun at the pirates vs ninja meme. ArenaNet is just perverse enough to do it.

      It always made me sad in Prophecies that the classes were so melee-light.

        • Jason
        • June 22nd, 2010

        Sadly, I think that means the days of meleemancers (my necro with a sword anyway) are a thing of the past. I really liked the combo of self-heal through life steal and swatting critters with a sword though. /sigh

    • Tigerfeet
    • June 22nd, 2010

    Jason :

    Sadly, I think that means the days of meleemancers (my necro with a sword anyway) are a thing of the past. I really liked the combo of self-heal through life steal and swatting critters with a sword though. /sigh

    Elementalists can use daggers. It’s possible to play a range-only warrior. You never know 😉

  1. interesting thoughts tigerfeet. I would venture to say that the assassin in GW isn’t supposed to be as melee as the warrior though. the developers said once or twice it was always meant to go in, do some damage, shadowstep out to avoid dying, use various slightly ranged skills or spells. They were never meant to be in the thick of things like a warrior. people never really took to shadowstepping though.

    there are bonus’ to attack in gw2 from the side or from behind, perhaps this is an indication towards the gw2 assassin? in nox’s assassin video caithe just stands there and buffs up or charges up, out of melee. so I guess you are out of luck if you just want to be in the thick of things as an assassin.

    btw, use watch yourself in gw1 as a assassin/warrior, i find it helps keep you alive, along with other warrior defense skills and personally i use flashing blades but thats me.

    also, rangers can use melee. think about it.

  2. Dervish is pretteh cool. The character animations seemed to smooth out a lot by Nightfall, in my humble opinion.

    Right now I’m stuck on Wounding Strike. OgGjkyq26SAYMXBF9XmXygkbIYA is a pretty nifty skillset for general purpose mauling, if anyone’s interested.

  3. If you want something interesting in terms of a melee fighter, may I suggest a blind guardian – a ritualist with a secondary profession as a warrior? I find it to be a very interesting combination, frustrating at times, but very rewarding as well.

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