[Guide] A Guide to Pugging T4 Fractals
The top tier of fractals occupies a unique position in terms of Guild Wars PvE content. It falls under the top tier of raids which often require very specific builds, voice communication, and lots of coordination. However, it is well above a lot of general PvE content where anything goes and you can autoattack your way through anything with a big enough mob. This guide is meant to be a bit of a primer and review for those who not just play the top tier, but often find themselves in random groups of random people with random team compositions. First off, a few things to do before you head in.
Play a serious build.
While few people will ask that you play an exact meta build with a perfect rotation and near optimal DPS, we do ask that you play something that is at least respectable for the content. There is a time and a place for build experimentation at that is not in fractals. There is nothing more concerning than seeing someone use a skill or weapon that you rarely see, and trying to figure out what they are going for.
Understand the fractal.
When working your way to T4, don’t just grind Molten Duo over and over to blitz your way through. Understand the mechanics and how groups manage them for each of the fractals. Understand the bosses, their attacks, and what to watch out for. This is especially important when you get into the Mists Convergence Instability and you have mechanics from other fractals pop in that you need to deal with.
Meet the AR requirement.
This one usually goes without saying, but for newer players may apply. Only Mai Trin requires a perfect 150 AR so many of the other fractals are doable while you are working your way to that point. However, make sure to talk with your team as some players prefer the higher level fractals for the different instabilities than the lower levels, and they will need to know that you need the lower version.
If possible, have multiple classes available.
On that point about random team compositions, for more veteran players, it is always encouraged to have multiple classes that you can play if possible. I generally main a Druid where my team support is always a welcome addition to the team. However, if there is another Druid in the party, I will typically swap out to one of my other classes based on what we will be doing. Having that flexibility for the team is a great boon to balancing out that composition and giving the team a better chance to succeed.
Remember, this is a pug.
This is the most frustrating part as it is completely out of your control. Sometimes, you are paired with great players that fly through the content without a problem. Other times, it is a slog through even the easiest of fractals. Obviously, the first thing you want to try is to help the players that are struggling. If a few tips can help them get better, they will hopefully continue to perform better in the future which helps the entire community. However, sometimes you end up in a team that just isn’t going to get things done. If that happens, leave but be respectful of it, don’t rage at the team because that is just going to cause more frustration. Take a break, and determine if you want to try again, or just skip that one for the day. Also, keep a mental note of how often this happens, if it happens a lot, the problem may not be the team, but may be on your end.
Next, I will look at the individual fractals, the difficulty for a pugger, what to watch out for, and any special considerations. For this, I’m considering the group to be an average group with low coordination, random classes (you can’t rely on a certain class to be around for something specific), and low communication. I’ve split the 15 fractals up into three groups of five between easy, medium, and hard difficulty. Easy fractals should be relatively simple to get through, and will only be failed if the team is really bad. Medium levels can be difficult for poor teams, but most good teams should breeze right through. Hard are some of the most difficult fractals and will need a fairly good group to pass on your first attempt.
Aetherblade – Medium
What to watch out for: Electric walls
What to bring: Unblockable attacks, swiftness
Generally, Aetherblade isn’t too bad up until the final boss. It is more of an annoyance to get through the mines, electric floor, rotating walls, and mobs than anything else. The golems can provide some difficulty as it is easy to get caught out of position when managing the electric walls and trying to damage the golems. Getting downed is pretty much a death in this one as there is very little time for a teammate to come over and revive you before the walls make another pass.
- At the boss room, staying alive is more important than dealing damage.
- The golems gain block when they cross the beams, but conditions keep ticking.
Aquatic Ruins – Easy
What to watch out for: Baby Jellyfish
What to bring: AoE, whatever you can underwater
The most annoying part here is getting through the dolphin section. Make sure to stay together and try to semi coordinate your decoys and res skills if at all possible. The only threat for the boss is if he can spawn a large number of adds. Having a lot of AoE to burn those down as quick as possible go a long way to ensuring a smooth run.
- Swim together and spam skill 1 to see the krait. Coordinate your decoys to go through their ‘roadblocks’ without anyone getting targeted. Keep a finger on those revives, but do not waste them, ctrl click the skill and whoever appears first uses it, or give each other turns to see who should use theirs first.
- Lure the beast to the cages by keeping them between you and it. The cages damage it and greatly damage its defiance.
Captain Mai Trin – Hard
What to watch out for: Cannons, Adds
What to bring: Protection, team support
The biggest challenge here is staying alive through the cannon barrages at every 25%. This is where a class with any kind of ranged heal ability can help out by trying to support the teammate from afar. Also, I highly recommend not getting the Mistlock until the final 25%. If you die in one of the early barrages, it isn’t too difficult for the remaining team members to kite Mai Trin away while one member gets any downed players up. It becomes much more difficult though when the three elite adds spawn in during the final phase. If you survive any barrage, make sure it is the one before the adds. As an added note, at the beginning of each phase, be ready to stack up on Mai to ensure that an electric shot hits and starts to remove her shield. As such, you need to be ready with team support and to hold back any damage until she is vulnerable again. Blockers, similar to what you would use for Old Tom will block his fire shots as well, so any turrets, spirits, or anything else that can take damage should be setup around Horrick.
- Running around like headless chicken may work, but can also get people killed if a small lag hit make them lag a bit behind as the areas stack. The less you move during barrages, the better you are doing. Spread to all the corners of the room, do not stick together and the AoEs won’t stack. Once you got the aoes to spread, you can just basically press A and D to strafe outside the areas without ever being hit.
Chaos Isles – Hard
What to watch out for: Spin-to-win, Harpy Golems
What to bring: Hard CC, downed rescue skills
The pain here is the final boss, as pugs generally don’t have the coordination to get the break bar in time. This ends with some people staying in range trying to get the break, and others fleeing doing nothing. If you can coordinate the break bar, it is definitely the way to go. If you can’t, do whatever you can to get out of range, and have skills ready to pulled down people out if they get sucked in. It is hard to revive from death here with the rotating damage on the floor.
- At the last boss, if you don’t break that defiance bar, you better have stability. If you are an elementalist, you can just go scepter+ focus and obsidian flesh will let you laugh at his pull. That won’t save your teammates if they can’t save themselves. And by Grenth’s sake don’t leave those harpy golems laying around. They are weak and annoying, just kill them quickly.
Cliffside – Medium
What to watch out for: Holes in the scaffolding, boss AoE
What to bring: AoE, swiftness
Generally not too bad on the way up as long as the group can nuke down the mobs of cultists. The boss redo has definitely made it more interesting and interactive. Your main concern is staying out of his large AoE skills. Being able to break him will help but is definitely not required.
- If you don’t have much condition removal, bring a bit more. It will help.
Molten Boss – Easy
What to watch out for: AoE, shockwaves
What to bring: Single target damage, reflects
This one is a fairly simple exercise of nuke the boss three times over. Reflects will help a lot as the large fire AoE pools can really start to fill up the arena making the ability to find a safe spot difficult. If someone goes down in a spot that you can save them, try to get them back up. If they are in an inferno, keep pushing the boss down as they will autorevive when the first one falls.
- Do not jump over the middle of the waves, they will hit you. Jump over the start. Lagging? Mash space! That works surprisingly often!
Molten Furnace – Easy
What to watch out for: Fire Elementals, adds
What to bring: Reflects, knockbacks
Probably the easiest fractal now that the swamp has been changed, this one is often flown through. Nuke the adds in each section of the tunnel, and have a few reflects and definitely a knockback for the Protector at the final boss.
- Like with the duo, jump over the start of the waves, not over the middle where they are higher.
- Little know secret: during the fire tornadoes, if you look up, you’ll see the parabolic reflector aiming for the next wave, and that tells you were they’ll spawn.
- Launches, pushes and pulls have distances, if you can bring one or two with very long distances, that’ll be great.
Snowblind – Medium
What to watch out for: Adds, ice stun
What to bring: Swiftness, dodges
In the area with the ice elemental, make sure that you are on the same page with your party. Some parties will try to burn the elemental as quickly as they can and do their best to ignore adds. Others take it a little safer and will knock out the adds that are pestering them before moving back to the boss. For the boss, there is a lot of AoE that you will need to stay out of. Take special care when he teleports up to the ledge and summons the Effigy as you will have to deal with the ice spikes raining down, as well as the freeze AoE that the Effigy summons.
- You can set map markers if you get lost during the snowstorms.
Solid Ocean – Easy
What to watch out for: Tentacles, Maw beam attack
What to bring: Non-projectile damage, ranged damage
Generally players just run to the boss skipping everything in between. If you do get there, don’t go into combat immediately that way anyone that was downed can revive and finish the run. Once the fight begins, remember not to use projectiles on the jade elementals. If you get targeted with the beam and don’t have a crystal nearby, a dodge right when the indicator goes away will usually save you from the getting downed.
- Whenever you are going to revive someone, try to grab a crystal first. That way you don’t need to interrupt the revive if targeted.
- Killing tentacles damages the maw a little bit. You can speed up things a tiny bit if you kill many and fast.
Swampland – Hard
What to watch out for: Stomp and pound, ground slam
What to bring: Swiftness, stun break
Amazing how this has gone from the easiest to one of the hardest. The boss fight is a challenge in managing multiple things at once with the boss, the champion add that spawns, the poison fields, and wisp location. If you get jumped on, make sure you always have a stun break to get out or you are toast. When he is doing the ground pound, the second phase opens up an area on top of him for melee classes to get in and deal a lot of damage while immobile. Also, make sure that at least four people are up when he is phased to 25%, otherwise, you will run out of time on the wisps and wipe.
- Until 25%, stick together, stay in the circles, do not dilly-dally behind, keep moving.
Thaumanova Reactor – Hard
What to watch out for: The floor, oozes
What to bring: Swiftness, ranged damage
Thaumanova is terrible for having multiple areas that can punish a group. Subject 6 is painful, especially if people don’t realize to stop attacking when he goes into the shield phase. Also, generally assume that it will fall on you to take care of the oozes as many people try to burn the boss down and can’t make it before he heals. While the final boss is easier with the new floor, it can still be difficult especially when all five are alive. Floor can run out quickly, so when you have to, stay to the outside. There are a lot more tiles to deal with around the edges than right on top of the boss.
- At the boss either keep moving and pick clockwise or counter clockwise; or split the platform in 5 regions and keep to your own. Cross someone else’s path and you may get them killed.
Uncatagorized – Easy
What to watch out for: Rabbits, Harpies
What to bring: Blockers, CC
The worst part of this fractal is just dealing with the harpies in the two jumping sections. The first group of bosses is rarely painful as long as you follow the rabbit, bandit, flame legion, ettin strategy for focusing them down one by one. The poison bolts from Old Tom can be blocked with just about anything, so minions, turrets, spirits, elementals, pets, and whatever else are always welcome. For the final boss, anything that can be done to group the golems up will help AoE them down during the final phase. With enough damage, they will melt.
- Harpies are always worth killing.
- Old Tom’s projectiles are unblockable, so you can’t block them or reflect them. But they do not pierce, so you can just stay behind some AI creature. Water golems and Flesh golems are quite good at taking down defiance bars. Or you could just enjoy some bullet hell gameplay. Your choice.
Underground Facility – Hard
What to watch out for: Boss AoE, mobs of adds
What to bring: Hard CC, ranged damage
Can definitely be a pain, especially depending on the comp that you end up with. The first part is made easier if you have someone that can stealth at the final channel to open the door. If not, the two people not on buttons or the door will have to work to keep everyone up and the opener safe. When you get to the final boss, generally the person with the weakest ranged damage will want to be on lever duty. However with the new fixation mechanic, communication needs to be in place when a swap needs to happen. Try to break the boss under the bucket to make sure it gets weakened, and you can get in for some melee damage before you head to the next bucket.
- When people tell you to ‘lure’ the boss they mean that you move so the charred stain on the floor stays between you and the boss. When the boss moves towards you, it will move to the stain. Ignore the fixation mechanic and run around like an idiot, and the boss will never get under the cauldron’s area.
Urban Battleground – Medium
What to watch out for: Siege, mobs of adds
What to bring: AoE, swiftness
Always be careful of the over aggro when going from the starting point to the gate. If you get too many adds on you, the combination of siege, adds, and might from the monks can easily lead to a wipe. If you can get free to the door, you should be good to go for most of the rest of the fractal. For the boss, stay out of his meteor showers, and be ready to revive people when he brings his fiery greatsword. His spin-to-win is quick, difficult to dodge, and can put on a lot of damage if you get caught by it.
- The more allied NPCs you manage to bring with you and keep alive until the boss, the easier things will be, as they will soak and intercept damage.
- Enemies here hit hard on criticals, so more blindness is never a bad thing.
Volcanic – Medium
What to watch out for: Slugs, Grawl mobs
What to bring: AoE, rapid attacking skills
The only really tough part here is the final boss. You may want some movement impairing skills for slowing down Grawl trying to kick off the prisoners, but they generally aren’t too difficult to burn down. When you get to the final boss, you need to be ready for the phase mechanic at every 25%. First job is to blow up the boss’s shield with rapid attacking skills. Something like an Engineer flamethrower with many small packets of damage are great for this. Then bust out all of your AoE to wipe the slugs. Try to tag as many of them as you can as if you are downed, it gives you a good chance to rally off one that died.
- Some snares can get you an extra chest. Oh, and unlike players, dazed NPCs stop moving, but immobilize, fears, launch and push may get things done better.
- The lava elementals spit projectiles that immobilize. Projectiles you can block and reflect.
- I’m yet to see an imbued Shaman stand a single Lightning Storm. That’s 36 strikes for you.
That’s all I have at this point. Please let me know any comments and feedback you have towards making this better. I hope this helps the fractal community gets better, as that means more successful runs for me, and anyone else that is involved.