Barraging is considered an alternative to Nuking but which accomplishes the same goal: AoE damage over a large or tightly-packed mob of enemies. The benefits of Barraging over using high-powered AoE spells are mostly related to the ability of delivering a more stable stream of damage due to the fact that AI mobs do not scatter as easily.
The name "Barraging" actually comes from the Ranger skill Barrage, but in time, the build in which it was used has grown to use skills from other professions as well, like the Elementalist, the Ritualist Channeling Magic skill-tree and even the Assassin. A small description of the skill before we go on. Barrage is a skill that adds damage to your attack and also damages your target and an additional six targets around it; thus the maximum you can hit are seven targets.
In Barraging, a Pet may, or may not be used, depending on the constitution of the party or the tactics in use. The general perception that one is needed comes from the Barrager/Pet combo that was widely in use in farming the Tomb of the Primeval Kings, and remained in the collective consciousness of the players as such.
Also it is worth noting that Barraging is almost strictly reserved for PvE. It has very little to absolutely no use whatsoever in any kind of PvP.
The only real equipment you need to Barrage is a bow. The problem comes when someone asks, "Which bow?". Technically they all are good, but practically this is one of the most disputed arguments in GW to date. Without appearing too opinionated here are some very short reviews of which work good and why not:
- Flatbows: They have a high-arc, and even with Favored Winds you have a good chance of missing moving enemies. The high-arc also means a longer flight time which in turn means a bit more refire time. Still, they have longbow-range and you can "snipe"-barrage out of harm's way.
- Shortbows:The almost exact opposite of the Flatbows, but with a lower range and flight time. It makes up by having a high refire rate which may work against Barraging, read below why.
- Longbows: Are kinda like the Flatbows, but with a lower arc and worse refire rate, but lower flight time. Some people put this on the same level as the flatbows, more or less justly, but it leaves that impression. Also useful for shooting out of harm's way behind a meatshield.
- Recurve Bows: They have the lowest arc in the game and the smallest arc while also maintaining a bit of range, comparable to that of the Hornbow, but less then the Flatbow/Longbow. This one is a good interrupter bow and some use it to Barrage because of it's missile low flight-time.
- Hornbows: Hornbows have the 10% sundering advantage but also the longest refire rate in the game. Some use this because of the refire when using 25% IAS skills like Tiger's Fury
Now I probably baffled you with all that tech-wiz but the simplified version of it is this:
- If you use Favorable Winds and have a tank/meatshield, stick with the Flatbow or the Longbow
- If you don't mind getting in the middle of them, you can use the Shortbow or the Recurve for a bit faster Barrages
- Use Hornbows with IAS for a bit more damage
What I mean about perfect reloads and why I only said to use the IAS 33% for the Hornbow is kinda simple but very variable. The problem is that sometimes, either due to ping or user-lag, you will do this combo: Fire Barrage, (your character pulls another arrow and nocks it on the bow), you push to fire another Barrage and your character then ends up redoing the animation, losing vital time. This is one of those things you get a feel for. That's why people have these arguments, some prefer the Hornbow because they don't experience it, some the Recurve for the same reason, some the Flat just because. All in all, try and use all the bows in combat and stick with what you like most.
Of course, this might not be efficient in the least. Let's add in another skill or two.
Now we have the basics of a Barrager/Pet. But still, it's not very terribly efficient, so let's add in something to increase the functionality of the Barrage. Sticking to the Ranger skill-tree only, and after checking the Barrage description, we find that we cannot use any preparations with it. Thus Apply Poison is out and with it a whole lot of useful attack-enhancing skills. So let's try and increase the attack indirectly.
We manage to stick in some extra damage, and also, improve the way Barrage works by making the arrows travel faster, decreasing the chance that some will miss their target due to strafing enemies, and also allowing a very slightly increased Rate of Fire, depending on what bow you use.
This is about as far as we can get without getting too much into detail and so we move on to the next section:
Continuing to the chain of thought as above, sticking to Ranger skills, we'll end up with something along these lines:
Depending on play-style you might have more damage attacks in there, like Sundering Attack or Sloth Hunter's Shot, or more defensive, using more deflection stances or fitting a Resurrection Signet. It all depends on personal preference and gameplay.
All things considered, there is a certain limit which you will eventually hit where this setup will no longer seem "improvable". Then it is time we dip into that second profession that Guild Wars so kindly offers us and see what we can use to increase the potency of this build.
Ritualists are a common secondary profession for barraging due to the inclusion of weapon spells.
The core of Ritualist usage as a subclass for the Barrager consists almost entirely of the powerful Weapon Spell it boasts. The main reason is that Weapon spells are not preparations and as such, are not removed by Barrage, making them a good choice for upgrading our Barrager build.
The first pick will also be the most popular that is out there already: Splinter Weapon
Splinter Weapon does a certain amount of damage to enemies adjacent the one you hit; this is limited to your next 1-4 attacks. Now imagine you have four enemies together, you activate Splinter Weapon on yourself, attack with Barrage hitting all four enemies and then all of a sudden, your screen fills with numbers. The reason why Splinter Weapon is so powerful with Barrage should be clear by now. You hit one of the targets with one arrow from your Barrage, which fires the Splinter Weapon at the rest of the three enemies. In this exact moment, your other three arrows also hit their respective enemies and each fires up the Splinter Weapon. In the end you end up with a "cluster bomb" effect, doing a significant AoE-spike. Also, while your Splinter Weapon will only affect the first four arrows from your Barrage, that hit the enemy, the AoE damage from itself will affect ALL adjacent foes.
That is all great and amazing, but it does come at a high price. The Barrager has to recast Splinter Weapon after each Barrage, and at 5 energy, while it might not seem much, in a short period of time, you will end up with one-digit energy count. You will use about 3 energy per Barrage and 5 energy per Splinter Weapon, considering that you fire an additional Barrage between Splinter Weapon Recharges, in just around 12 seconds you would have used 19 energy. This can be countered somewhat by using a Zealous bowstring with your bow, but overall, it's up to you to figure out how do you want to do the energy management.
Also, since Heroes at this time are not all that good at using Splinter Weapon, the only real way you can use this build without too much micromanaging is to just use it yourself.
While not exactly and truly a variant in itself, it can be used as such.
Nightmare Weapon has one distinctive touch apart from Splinter Weapon, and it's not it's health gain. The health gain is not all that important because as a bow-user, you generally should be out of "most" of harm's way. No... the distinctive feature is the fact that it STEALS health, this is different from normal damage because it's armor ignoring. It only affects your next 3 attacks and due to it's 10 recharge, it would not be wise to use it as a stand-alone variant. It can be combined with Splinter Weapon for specific damage type, or just kept as an emergency heal.
Various Ritualist Weapon Spells
These might not prove to be useful as stand-alones but they are worth considering to bring along.
Guided Weapon For 5-10 seconds your attacks cannot be blocked. The thing about this skill is that it does not have a limited number of "attacks" for which it functions, so while the 15 energy might seem steep, you can fire 3-4 Barrages in that time, all of which become unblockable.
Warmonger's Weapon This little skill is interpretable, but for short, it's a mass-casters-interrupter, especially combined with Barrage.
Wailing Weapon This skill does exactly as Warmonger, just that it's for interrupting enemy Rangers and Melee mobs.
Brutal Weapon Brutal Weapon does exactly what it's said to do, more damage. It's quite good but the trick is that you have got to not be under any enchantments, so the party configuration and organization has to be arranged so that you will not end up with a random Protective Spirit on you, negating the extra damage.
Choosing an Elementalist secondary for our Barrager might seem amusing at first, and although uncommon in today's "PvE meta" it's variants are still usable. While people might be thinking of some newbie build with Barrage and Firestorm attached to the skillbar, again, we are going to use skills from this profession to improve upon our "mighty" Barrage.
First thing to use them, you have to have the correct mod on your weapon. Firey mod for Conjure Flame, Icy mod for Conjure Frost and Lightning mod for Conjure Lightning. While this might decrease a bit of damage, it's compensated by the damage granted by the Conjures. They all sport 5-17 bonus damage that is added on top of the damage done by your bow... that can be further improved by using a Glyph of Elemental Power before firing up the Conjure Spells. They last pretty long so recasting them will not be a drain on your energy supplies, and also the main part why we are using them with Barrage, is again, because they are NOT removed by it. Let's make a Conjure Flame Barrager build to see how it might look:
For the Conjure Flame you might add a Mark of Rodgort to do some burning aswell but that's about it. This is pretty much everything that you could do with just this setup for all Conjures. The important thing is that the damage is steady and reliable and just does what it's supposed to: kick up extra pain on their side. This setup is effective in it's own, and should not be considered a throw-away. In the end, Barragers should just compare this with the other variants available to them and choose whether they prefer reliability or spikeability.
This variant is special because it's the only one that requires you to NOT have Ranger as a primary. It uses the Critical Strikes primary attribute of the Assassin to disperse a higher DPS through criticals. It's often referred to as a "crit-barrager" and while it might not be as popular, it's still a Barrager build and it gives Assassins a different way to play their class depending on the needs of their party.
A basic crit-barrager build is this:
With 16 points in Critical Strikes and the buffs up you should have a very high crit-chance, and with Barrage, you will get a major energy boost aswell due to Critical Eye and Critical Strikes. This will allow you to fire Barrage at zero or even gaining energy per Barrage.
In the Optionals you have a wide variety of choices... from Way of Perfection for health gain, to the PvE Norn skill, "Dodge This!", to Keen Arrow and going through Savage Shot/Disrupting Shot, those spaces will fill up to match whatever you might need. Before Sharpen Daggers was nerfed, you could disperse bleeding through each Barrage you fired; now, it was nerfed to the a max of 11 attacks at 16 Critical Strikes, but still, it can be used quite successfully and can be recommended in the skillbar. Also another highly recommended skill-combo to have on would be Critical Defenses and Critical Agility. These refresh when you do a successful critical hit, and with this build.. that's quite often. They will grant you a 75% block chance, some 10-22 armor and a constant 33% IAS which will prove to be useful in a more CQB enviroment.
Again, this is a Barrager build, non-pri-ranger, yes, but it's still amazingly effective so it's deserves a place here.
The Necromancer contributes to the Barrager-build by offering damage boosts through a few limited hex-skills and orders. They in themselves don't really deserve a special section because they are mostly skills you should bring on other party members or heroes, but since they can be used with Barrage on a single skillbar setup, they will be listed here for reference. These are generally inferior to proper variant builds and should only be used as support for those builds. Note that Orders builds cannot be used with Conjure Barragers in a team setting.
Mark of Pain is like a little persistent Splinter Weapon stuck to an enemy. While Barrage might benefit from using it, it has a better use with Triple Shot/Dual Shot builds, allowing you to hit the target repeatedly. Order of Pain although possible to use before firing two Barrages, the damage bonus for just one Barrager is not that significant. Only bring it if you have 2-4 Barragers in your party, and you will cycle them to have a constant OoP.
Monk as a secondary for Barragers mainly help on the defensive part, as they contain little to no skills worth using to increase damage dealt. Again, these will be listed just for reference and in no way might they outperform the stand-alone variants in terms of offensive power.
Live Vicariously Selfcast and enjoy the health per each hit. The energy might be a problem thou, so you might consider the next skill. Vigorous Spirit Unlike the above, it has a fixed duration, more health per hit, and a 5 energy requirement.
You can combine both of the above if you know you will need the extra healing power.
Judge's Insight is one of the few damage monk based increasers for our Barrager. It is particularly useful for bows that don't have a sundering modifier on them, as this skills will add 20% armour penetration, and of course, to add yet more sundering damage to those that do. Not only does it do that, but it also converts ours, or the target ally we choose's (hence can be used by a hero or party member), attacks to holy damage. Very few creatures are resistant to holy damage, many more are actually more vulnerable, especially demons and the undead (the undead take a striking double damage from holy attacks), which adds up in certain situations. This skill however, can be costly on energy, and has a rather long recharge time for its' duration.
The EotN PvE skill tree is more usefull to barragers than most people tend to think. Here's a list if the most useful ones.
"Save Yourselves!" This skill is charged ridiculously quickly by a few good barrages (2x a hit on 5 foes = full charge). Since this skill has no recharge time, it can be held up almost indefenitely when the barrager has enough foes to attack.
Summon Spirits The better version of Draw Spirit, since it draws the spirit within Compass Range. This means you don't have to cast Favourable Winds every time again in battle. If using this skill, it's wise to summon the spirit of Favourable Winds once it gets out of spirit range. This way, you'll be under the effects of the environment effect without having to cast the thing for 5 seconds, and so losing precious time in which enemies may/will scatter.
"By Ural's Hammer!" 25% damage buff. The regeneration is a welcome bonus.
Great Dwarf Weapon +15...20 damage buff for 20 seconds. The chances of knocking down anyone while using Barrage are good. Useful against any group of enemies. The only disadvantage of this skill is that you cannot self-target, so you need at least two Barraging players.
Ebon Vanguard Standard of Honor Another damage buff, but now it's party-wide. No knockdown, but still uncapped and extremely useful with several barragers in one team.
"I Am The Strongest!" Not the best damage buff, since it is capped to a max of 8 attacks (= 8 barrages = approximately 3 attacks).Still the + damage is welcome.