Feb 28, 2012

How will you choose your Traits?

Today on the ArenaNet blog Jon Peters posted about the new Traits system.  What we've now seen is a system that is deeper and more complex than it appears on the surface.  For those who were lamenting the lack of variety in builds that the new skillbar system introduces, I think the Traits system will more than make up for it.

In case you didn't read the blog, a quick recap: each profession has five different Trait lines.  Points are awarded to a player when they level up from level 11 to 80 for a total of 70 possible points.  Each line can have up to 30 points applied to it.  There are bonuses awarded on three different levels.

The first level is awarded per point spent.  Each line is associated with two straight-up bonuses that you get per point.  For instance, a Necromancer gets +10 to Toughness and +1% Boon Duration for each point put into Death Magic.  Add three points and you have +30 Toughness and +3% to Boon Duration.

The second level of awards is obtained when you hit the 5, 15 and 25 points spent thresholds.  At these levels you receive a pre-determined Minor Trait.  All characters of a profession who put 5 points into a line will receive the same Minor Trait.  For example, any Necromancer player who spends 5 points on Death Magic will (in addition to +50 Toughness and +5% Boon duration) be granted the Minor Trait "Reanimator" which gives them a chance to summon a Jagged horror whenever they kill an enemy.

The third level of awards come at the 10, 20 and 30 points spent thresholds.  These levels award a Major Trait which is chosen by the player from a list of possibilities.  Continuing with the Necromancer example, when the player gets to 10 points in Death Magic, they will have +100 Toughness, +10% Boon duration, the Reanimator minor trait and they will be able to choose a Major Trait.  For example, if they are playing as a Minion Master, they may opt to choose "Flesh of the Master" which grants their minions +60% health.  Or, they may instead choose to be more offensive than defensive and go for "Training of the Master" which increases Minion damage by 30%.  On the other hand, if they aren't playing as a Minion Master they could choose to take "Staff Mastery" which reduces the cooldown on all Staff skills by 15%.

Which brings us to the min/max'ers nightmare of "How will you choose your Traits?"

Stat bonuses
One option is to simply place your points based on the attribute bonuses that appeal to you.  For instance, a Guardian who wants to be heavy on the support side would probably split their 70 points between the Zeal (for + Boon Duration), Honor (for + Healing) and Virtues (for faster recharge on their Virtues).  If you wanted a balance between these and weren't worried about the Traits, you might choose to put 23 points into Zeal and Honor and then 24 into Virtues.
By focusing on the stat bonuses, you may not maximize the number of Minor or Major traits that you can obtain.  In the example above, the player would only receive six of each type instead of the seven of each type that they could get.

Minor Traits
Another option is to maximize your minor traits by allocating your points in a 25, 25, 15, 5 spread or 15, 15, 15, 25 spread.  Either of these will allow you to get 9 Minor Traits (as opposed to the 7 you'd receive with a 30, 30, 10 split or anything else that used 10 point increments.  Using our Guardian as an example here and still looking to maximize support, they might choose to go with 25 in Zeal to and Valor keep themselves alive longer and then 15 in Honor and 5 in Virtues because only the first couple of Minor Traits really help support in those lines.
Receiving 9 Minor Traits comes at the cost of only being able to pick 5 Major Traits instead of the normal maximum of seven.

Major Traits
Since the Major Traits are more powerful, varied and you get to actually choose them, I suspect that most people will plan out their traits by looking at what 7 Major Traits they want to take.  Our Support Guardian, for instance, might choose the following: 20 points in Honor to take Battle Presence (nearby allies gain Might while you're in combat) and Selfless Daring (Dodging has a chance to heal allies).  Putting 30 points into Virtues would allow them to take Meditative Revival (which recharges Virtues when you revive an ally), Purifier's Justice (which removes a condition when you activate Justice) and Purity of Resolve (which causes Resolve to remove 2 conditions instead of 1).  Another 10 in Radiance would allow the Guardian to select Shattered Aegis which damages enemies when an Aegis is removed.  The final 10 points could be spent on Zeal to pick Conciliatory Strength which grants a bonus to healing equal to 10% of the Power attribute.
By maximizing the Major traits at 7, you will only receive 7 Minor Traits.

Obviously, most players will pick a hybrid method where they take all three things -- Attribute bonuses, Minor Traits and Major Traits -- into account.  To get the most out of the system, players will have to look for synergies between the stats and traits.  It will also be important to decide what kind of playstyle suits you and to tailor your build and weapon selections to that style.  Many of the major traits grant bonuses for particular weapons, but the bonuses may not be worthwhile if the attribute points and minor trait don't fit the overall playstyle.

However you decide to spend your points, there are many factors to consider and many ways to make your character truly unique.  The fun of tweaking builds is alive and well in Guild Wars 2, the focus has just shifted away from the skills and into the attributes and traits.

Tell us what you think of the new system in the Comments section.  Do you like it?  Do you think it's a step backwards from Guild Wars?

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