Join Date: Jun 2006
Guild: Baby Back [Ribs]
I decided to post some more practical applications to using henchmen. It is effectively an expansion of the Henchmen Guide already on this site. I felt it was incomplete so I decided to post some of my thoughts here.
Practical Guide to Henchmen Use:
First of, as a note, everyone who hasn't read it already, please go read the "Guide to Effective Use of Henchmen" posted on this site. In general, the concepts posted there are accurate. What I will attempt to address here are the practical matters that arise when using henchmen, which this guide failed to deal with. I hope you will find my experience and comments useful.
I often hench in pve. In fact, I use henchmen far more than I play with normal players. I have completed every mission with just henchmen as my allies, and been through most explorable areas with just henchmen. It really isn't that difficult. With some experience, everything can be done with henchies. So, I will begin with what you do in your outpost.
Step 1 - Henchmen selection
This is actually more important than you think it is. In Tyria, it is much less of an issue than in Cantha, simply because there are less henchmen. Given the differences, I will cover each individual area separately.
Tyria contains the same henchies after you get past a certain point. There are two monks, two warriors, one ranger, one necro, one mesmer, and one elementalist. Before that, some of these henchies are cut out. In Tyria, the following rules apply:
1) Always bring all monk henchies
2) Always bring both warrior henchies
Beyond that, henchmen selection is your choice.
My normal setup is both warriors, both monks, ranger, necro, elementalist.
I have a personal preference for the ranger and the elementalist, but that is only because I am able to control the placement of Orion's or Cynn's Firestorm decently well, which is a key to using the elementalist. I find the ranger henchie a solid damage boat who doesn't take much damage, so I usually bring Reyna or Aidan along also. But, beyond the warriors and monks, the henchies are really up to you. Cantha contains a far wider variety of henchies, especially before the split into kurzick and luxon sides, so therefore, henchmen selection becomes much more important. Once again, a few rules apply.
1) Always bring a Spirit Henchmen (Chiyo or Professor Gai)
2) Always bring a Healer Henchmen (Sister Tai, Danika, Jamei)
3) Bring the Protection Henchmen if he is available
4) Always bring both Warrior Henchmen
5) Never bring the Assassin Henchies, under any condition, EVER
The one exception to these rules occurs if you are a monk (monk primary only, secondaries need not apply). If you are a monk, drop one of the defensive henchies (spirit, healer, protection) assuming all 3 are available. If all 3 are not available, then take the 2 that are, and add yourself. My personal preference is to drop the ritualist, but the Protection Henchie can be dropped also. I would advise strongly against dropping the healer henchmen. The rules are fairly common sense. Follow these rules and you will always have a solid group of core henchmen. You may find it odd that I say to ignore the assasin henchies. This is because of AI. The function of your melee henchmen is to get in up and close, draw aggro, and take hits. Assasins follow the exact same AI as warriors, except they do less damage, and take more hits. Since 2 warriors is always enough, there is no reason to ever use an assasin henchmen, as they are functionally just a bad warrior. It is impossible to get the assasin henchmen to operate like an assasin should, which is to move around on the periphery of the main group and caster hunt, while maintaining the effectiveness of the rest of your group. The second point of explanation is regarding the Healer Henchies. Sometimes there are 2 of them. They have the exact same skillbar, and the exact same AI, therefore, it is generally pointless to bring both healer henchies. Now, with that out of the way, how you choose to supplement your henchmen is up to you. The difference between Cantha and Tyria is the utility henchmen. Cantha has more utility henchmen, I will go through them and describe their uses as I see them here.
Vile Henchmen - Death Necro, biggest use is Putrid Explosion on a stick, which can do a good bit of damage
Blood Henchmen - Same as Tyrian Necro henchie, biggest use is Blood Rit, although he will only use it if you are at really low energy
Shock Henchmen - Air ele, a decent amount of damage on your target
Earth Henchmen - Ward against Melee + occasional dragon's stomp
Mage Henchmen - Same as Tyrian counterpart, lots of damage, requires some management
Archer Henchmen - Same as Tyrian Archer henchie, strong damage dealer, usually one of the later ones to die, due to solid positioning behind lines.
Longbow Henchmen - Barrage Henchie, effectiveness varies based on how well you pick her targets for her
Interrupt Henchmen/Domination Henchmen - Both server the same purpose, utilize computer's god-like reflexes to interrupt your target like mad
Illusion Henchmen - Generally useless
My normal setup in Tyria is healer henchie, spirit henchie, both wars, earth henchie, vile/interrupt henchie, Archer/Longbow Henchie, Protection/Mage Henchie
Step 2 - Your build
Your build should vary based upon which class you are. I will go through each class here.
Monk - Obviously you are set up in a defensive build. Whether you are a healer, protection monk, or a hybrid of both is up to you. Your job is to keep the party up, as always. Don't bother with offensive skills, and bring a Rebirth if you have room. If it looks bad, run, and you can always res the entire team. Rebirth is a highly useful skill as a monk.
Monks can accomplish there objectives in many different ways, here are some:
Bonder - Life Bond is extremely strong in PvE. It is weaker in Cantha than in Tyria, but overall, it is still a very strong build. The core is Life Bond + Balthazar's Spirit + Blessed Signet. Personally I run 14 healing prayers, 12 divine, 11 protection, and I run a bond-healer hybrid. The bonds and blessed signet serve as energy management, and the damage prevention combined with solid targeted heals is very effective. Of course, you can also go full protection bonder, but I personally find the bond-healer more effective, as you can also heal, therefore have a direct way of increasing a target's health quickly, which is sometimes necessary.
Suggested build - Word of Healing, Orison of Healing, Healing Touch, Rebirth, Blessed Signet, Life Bond, Balthazar's Spirit, Holy Veil (10+1+3 healing Prayers, 10+1 Protection Prayers, 11+1 Divine Favor)
Healer - Straight healers in PvE should do just that, heal. You should run targeted heals, energy management, condition removal, Heal Party, and Rebirth. Nothing else. You may not need all of these on your bar depending on the area, or what you choose to run. But don't try to bring things like protective spirit, or guardian, or Divine Intervention. Its not worth it. Just heal. I personally refuse to leave district without Heal Party, as I think it is the best heal in the game, but you can determine that for yourself.
Suggested Build - Mantra of Recall, Orison of Healing, Healing Touch, Healing
Whisper/Dwayna's Kiss, Heal Party, Healing Seed, Inspired Hex, Rebirth (11+1+3 Healing Prayers, 10+1 Divine Favor, 10 Inspiration magic)
Suggested Build 2 - Word of Healing, Orison of Healing, Healing Touch, Heal Party, Holy Veil, Healing Seed, Offering of Blood, Rebirth (11+1+3 Healing Prayers, 10+1 Divine Favor, 10 Blood Magic)
Protection monk - Like the healer, your skillbar should focus on one thing, protection. I personally suck at playing prot monk, so I don't do it, but I am familiar with what they do. Just understand your skills and how to use them, Guardian on targets that are being hit by warriors, protective spirit for elementalists, etc. Once again, energy management and hex removal are also runnable. One thing you should be aware of, if you chose to run a protection monk, always bring condition removal. If the party has a dedicated protection monk, condition removal is part of the job description. You will be expected to have it in some way shape or form. I recommed Mend Condition, but there are other alternatives.
Suggested Build - Reversal of Fortune, Protective Spirit, Guardian/Aegis, Mend Condition, Convert Hexes, Rebirth, Mantra of Recall, Rebirth (11+1+3 Protection Prayers, 10+1 Divine Favor, 10 Inspiration Magic)
Boon prot - This is a monk build designed to be able to handle pressure by itself. It combines healing from Divine Boon with Protection skills. It is overall a strong build, but has more energy management issues than other monk builds due to the -2 energy from Divine Boon.
Suggested Build - Divine Boon, Reversal of Fortune, Guardian, Protective Spirit, Mend Condition, Mantra of Recall, Contemplation of Purity, Inspired Hex (11+1+3 Divine Favor, 10+1 Protection Prayers, 10 Inspiration Magic)
Ranger/Warrior/Assasin - Your job is to be a high DPS platform, while providing the ability to interrupt key skills that will prove to be bad for your henchmen team. In general, that means I run W/R, and R/X (Mo ideally for Rebirth, but sometimes I am too lazy to change my secondary).
Warriors should always carry an attack speed buff. If you can manage with flurry, do so. I recommend Tiger's Fury/Bestial Fury, as Frenzy (the only other really viable option) is suicidal, although it can be used if you are good.
The differences stop there. Warriors should use their attack buff as much as humanly possible. This will often entail a zealous weapon, which you should aquire immediately. With 9 Beast Mastery, Tiger's fury will last 9 seconds, and you will get 12 energy back during that time, thereby netting 2 energy every cycle of TF with a zealous weapon (the skill costs 10 energy). The key with attack buffs is not the DURATION but the RECHARGE. Fast recharge is very important on attack buffs, as the ability to use and reuse them in combat is very important for your damage output. Warriors should rely on Adrenaline skills to do the job. Rangers should do their best to attack from a distance. They are better at interrupting than warriors, but do slightly less damage, but this damage is from range. That is the tradeoff. Pets are strong, as they are free damage and tanks without you really doing anything. As long as you can control the pet's aggro, usually it is a good thing to take one along.
Assasins have one of two options, you can act like a warrior, or you can teleport to casters in the back line, hit them with a quick combo, and TELEPORT BACK. the coming back is the most crucial part. If you don't come back fast, henchmen AI will screw you. You probably will only get 2-3 hits on your target before you have to come back. The window you have to leave the front line is very small.
Warrior - Eviscerate/Triple Chop, Executioner's Strike, Penetrating Blow, Tiger's Fury, Healing Signet, Sprint, Distracting Blow, Resurrection Signet (11+1+3 Axe Mastery, 8+1 tactics, 8+1 Strength, 9 Beast Mastery)
Ranger - Barrage, Distracting Shot, Savage Shot, Whirling Defense, Troll Unguent, Charm Animal, Comfort Animal, Rebirth (12+1+3 Marksmanship, 11+1 Expertise, 6+1 Wilderness Survival)
Assasin - No clue, sorry, I suck at assasin skillbars
Elementalist - You are supposed to be even higher damage than warriors. Bring lots of AOE damage. Fire is optimal, Air is decent for single targets, and Earth is good if you want to bring party support spells also (mainly wards)
Fire Ele - Fire Attunement, Elemental Attunement, Fireball, Meteor Shower, Arcane Echo, Flame Burst, Rodgort's Invocation, Resurrection Signet (12+1+3 Fire magic, 12+1 Energy Storage)
Air Ele - Ether Prodigy, Lightning Orb, Lightning Strike, Enervating Charge, Heal Party, Rebirth, + 2 skills of your choice (11+1+3 Air Magic, 10+1 Energy Storage, 10+1 Healing Prayers)
Necromancer - Damage or support, depending on the situation, necros are highly useful in PvE. Minion masters and Spiteful spirit necros provide strong damage output, while orders necros and battery necros provide very strong party support.
Minion Master - Animate Flesh Golem, Animate Bone Fiends, Animate Bone Minions, Death nova, Taste of Death, Blood of the Master, Heal Area, Resurrection Signet (12+1+3 Death Magic, 10+1 Soul Reaping, 8 Healing Prayers)
SS necro - Spiteful Spirit, Arcane Echo, Blood Ritual, Suffering, Desecrate Enchantments, Defile Enchantments, Awaken the Blood, Resurrection Signet (12+1+3 Curses, 8+1 Blood Magic, 10+1 Soul Reaping)
Mesmer - Disruption, hexes, and support are the name of the game here, although mesmers are generally fairly weak in PvE. You should be able to hold up for a good long while, as mesmers have the best energy management in the game.
Suggested Build - Mantra of Recovery, Backfire, Empathy, Cry of Frustration, Power Drain, Shatter Echantment, Drain Enchantment, Rebirth (12+1+3 Domination Magic, 10+1 Inspiration Magic, 8+1 Fast Casting)
Note: Wastrel's Worry is rather strong against bosses.
Ritualist - Support for the party, and excellent in PvE, you can set up to do damage, but I would suggest being defensive in nature. Obviously, being a ritualist, there is no need to take the Ritualist henchie. Spirits do not stack, and you can keep them up well enough by yourself.
Suggested Build - Ritual Lord, Boon of Creation, Signet of Creation, Shelter, Union, Recuperation, Shadowsong, Flesh of my Flesh (10+1+3 Spawning Power, 10+1 Communing Magic, 11+1 Restoration Magic) + 2 skills of your choice
Note: The suggested builds are just some examples of builds that you may use. They are not optimized in any way shape or form, nor are they the best builds to use in PvE. But, if you are new, and have the skills, they should get the job done. Interrupts are very useful in PvE, and if you have room for it, I recommend bringing one in general. In certain areas, it is absolutely imperative that you have an interrupt, and in some areas, I bring 2, even 3.
Okay, now we are done covering exactly what you have to do while in the outpost, select your henchmen and set your skillbar. Now, we cover what happens in the instance, and how to manage henchmen effectively.
There are 2 rules of Henchmen combat is very simple:
1) Engage one group at a time
2) You may let one warrior per monk by your front line for a limited period of time (usually somewhere between 10-30 seconds, depending on how many other ppl you are fighting, and what they are, knowledge of this time limit can only be gained by experience).
This seems like common sense, but can sometimes be relatively difficult to accomplish. As for engaging one group at a time, most henchmen teams are capable of handling 2-3 groups of enemies, but only if you play well. Assuming no lag, I can usually handle a group of 3 hydras and 5 flesh golems out in Perdition rock with 7 henchmen. Here are some general tips on how to utilize your henchmen more effectively. However, the warrior thing is absolutely critical. It is absolutely crucial that you do not let enemy warriors rampage through your defensive line for extended periods of time. You will get torn apart. This is probably the single mistake made the most often when I see pople hench. They charge for the enemy back line, and let the warriors hit their back line. Then wonder why they are all dead 2 minutes later. You must know when you can afford to do this and when you can't. Experience will tell you when you can afford to let warriors by, and when you can't, but if you are ever in doubt, simply don't let them by. Let your warriors take their warriors and just slowly whittle away.
Tip 1: Differentiate between patrols and stationary groups, then learn the patrol paths.
This is to help you engage only one group at a time. Most of the time, pulling the patrol is not necessary (it can be done, but is rather difficult). Normally it is possible just to wait until the patrol is in an isolated, or relatively isolated location and then engage it and quickly wipe it out. Sometimes this will mean bringing a second group into the fray as you wipe out the casters in the first group. This is perfectly okay, just make sure that you wipe out the first group quickly, then proceed to working on the second.
Tip 2: Target selection
This is very important, target priority, what to kill first. If the opposing group is small enough, it really doesn't matter, as you can just roll your way through it as your team of 8 henchmen is far more powerful. However, as the enemies get denser and denser, and the groups get larger and larger, this becomes far more important. I will divide targets into 3 priority levels: High, Medium, and Low.
High Priority Targets: Warriors and anything that does a good amount of AoE damage. This is very important. Warriors, if allowed to start beating on your defensive casters, can shred your backline in no time, and if that happens with most of the opposing group up, it means a wipe or near wipe. So, the first priority in any engagement is to develop warrior on warrior battles. Have your warriors engage their warriors first, and take them down, then go after the other casters. Henchmen also tend to ball up like there's no tomorrow, and therefore take a lot of damage from AoE spells. An occasional dragon's stomp or earthquake really isn't gonna hurt, but stuff like meteor shower, firestorm, churning earth, lava font, searing heat can get really really nasty if 2 or 3 stack up. Watch out for this. Fortunately, most of these skills are relatively easy to interrupt, so you should bring an interrupt or two.
Medium Level Targets: Rangers, Elementalists that don't fall into the High Priority category. Along with anything that causes significant health degeneration
These targets can put some heavy damage pressure on your monks from afar, killing your group relatively quickly. Health degeneration from skills like bleeding spam, conjure phantasm spam, and other things of the like, can also put some heavy pressure on you, and should be dealt with accordingly.
Low level Targets: Everything Else
Exceptions to the rules:
1) Anything that can summon a good number of minions.
Animate Flesh Golem, and thus Outcast Deathhands, are a low priority target because they are a necro that is only capable of summoning one minion. The minion, while powerful, is not overwhelmingly so. However, Stone Summit Gnashers have Animate Bone Fiend, and are capable of getting quite a decent number of minions up. This can get to be a problem if you are fighting a large group. Therefore, these guys should be considered High Priority targets.
2) Any defensive caster that is stopping you from eliminating a target should be immediately eliminated.
Do not judge whether a defensive caster is stopping you from eliminating your target. If you are a warrior, learn to skill chain (use all your adrenaline skills at once) and ALWAYS bring a Deep Wound. If you are a caster, you can usually put some pressure on other targets to force the monk/ritualist to divert his attention elsewhere, allowing you to kill your target. Sometimes this is a very slow process. Patience is key here. If you are making ANY progress on the target's health bar consistently, and moving would entail breaking of positioning rules listed above, DO NOT DO IT.
Example: You have engaged 6+ strong warriors backed by 2 monks (both with life bond). I did this once, it took me about 3 minutes to get each warrior down, but I did it without suffering any casualties. All it took was time. Had I broke off and gone after the monk, I probably would have wiped, as the warriors would have gone straight for my monks, wiped them out in a short manner, then turned around on me. It is key to realize when you are making slow progress, and when you are making none at all. Even if progress is slow, be patient, they will die eventually.
Other than that, target priority is very very rigid, and should be followed in order to pull yourslef through tough fights. If you do this correctly, and act quickly, you will be able to pull off many fights with henchmen that you might otherwise have deemed too difficult for the "crappy AI"
Tip 3: Kill stuff as quickly as possible.
This in general means you should learn to Skill Chain or shutdown, depending on your build. Learn to interrupt, and learn to chain skills. Warriors using skills like Eviscerate + Executioner's Strike in succession can do a lot of damage, often taking down a target before it can be healed. Elementalists can use something like Earthquake + Aftershock or Lightning Orb + Lightning Strike to similar effect. Necromancers can use Spiteful Spirit followed by Parasitic Bond to cover their hexes. Things like this are very important. The key is to use your build well, and most decent builds require some skill chaining (at least as far as offense is concerned). If you are a defensive caster, your job is simple. Look at the little red bars, and make sure none of them go to zero.
Some other tips regarding henchmen in combat:
1) Henchmen will switch to the target you are attacking on after a short period of time. If they can't attack the target (only a problem for assas and warriors), they will come up and attack stand still for a bit, then attack a nearby target. Casters will have to do one of two things to hold warriors in position. The first is to call the target periodically (Ctrl + Spacebar). The second option is to wand the target periodically (once every 5 seconds or so). I normally find a combination of the two useful. I wand when I can, but if I'm busy casting, (eg. healing) I just spam call the target between spells. It is genrally preferable for offensive casters to wand the target, as you will normally have time off for one wand attack, and that is all it takes.
2) To get a warrior henchmen to switch targets faster, spam call the target in team chat (Ctrl + Spacebar). Hold the Ctrl key and just hit spacebar as fast as you can. This will get the melee henchies over to that target very quickly.
3) Spam calling can also be used to quickly group up henchies that have been spread out (for example from engaging 2 groups, one on each side). It will force all caster henchies to move within wanding range of the called target, getting your group together so it puts less strain on the monks since they don't have to run around. This is circumstancially useful, but when it is used, it is highly useful and very important.
4) Spam Calling can also be used to get henchies out of a fight if you have left a group of henchmen you can avoid. What it will do, is get all your henchmen to run towards that target and disengage from the fight. Once they are sufficiently dis-engaged, stop fighting, stop calling, and just run. Some of them will probably die, but its better to lose a few than to lose everyone.
5) Ctrl + Spacebar can be used to send warriors in ahead of caster players. This should always be done. As a note, it requires you to be about 1.25 aggro bubbles away from the target (just outside longbow range). Generally this should be done on a warrior, to send your warriors after theirs, and generate a front line.
6) Calling targets in general is useful for moving your henchmen around (especially the melee ones) If you find a henchmen is not doing anything, try calling a few different targets to get it to move.
Now I will cover probably the single most advanced thing you will ever do with a full party of henchmen. Most people say it cannot be done. It's a bunch of bull, because I do it all the time. It just requires some patience, and a little bit of luck.
The final topic is pulling with henchmen. Now, you will wonder how I pull with 2 warrior henchmen that LIKE to charge in on everything that hits their aggro bubble. The secret is to not let anything hit that aggro bubble. If you want to pull with henchmen, you MUST use a longbow or a flatbow. No other weapon will suffice, as the range is too close to that of the aggro bubble. I recommend a flatbow for the higher arc. Pulling is a 3 step process: approach, lure, finish.
Step 1: Approach
Make sure you are OUTSIDE the maximum range of your bow, usually about 5-10 steps should suffice. Also make sure that your henchmen are stationary. Then, target the nearest enemy and hit spacebar (with your longbow or flatbow out). This should make you run up and take a shot. If the nearest enemy changes while you are running up, either back out, or change your target. Pulling off the nearest enemy is always the easiest thing to do.
Step 2: Lure
This is the most difficult part. You must turn around and begin running WHILE the arrow is in the air. Basically, as soon as the arrow leaves your bow, turn around and book it in the opposite direction. In about a second, the arrow will land and the group will follow you. If you have a stance speed boost, now is the time to use it. Do not use speedboosts like Windborne Speed that force you to stop and cast them as your warriors will aggro and your pull will be bad.
Step 3: Finish
Just keep running until the group is sufficiently spread out, then turn around and engage them. If necessary, steps 1 and 2 can be repeated on a moving target (although this is more difficult, once again, it can be done). Upon engagement, rules for normal combat apply, and you should attempt to position your henchmen and yourself accordingly.
With some practice, everything in the game will also be clearable by henchies for you.
Last edited by Conelead; Jun 23, 2006 at 11:07 PM // 23:07..