Simplicity And Complexity In Professions


It is undeniable that some professions in Guild Wars 2 are easier to play than others. They might have simpler F1-skill mechanics, or easier to use skills, or are more durable in everyday fights. Some are simple to learn and understand, whilst others require a more thorough knowledge of the game to make the most out of them.

There are currently eight professions (classes) in Guild Wars 2, with the Heart of Thorns expansion introducing a ninth, and each profession has its own unique playstyle, with different strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to rank them in order of how simple they are to learn and play, from the simplest profession all the way down to what I believe is the most complex profession. This will mainly refer to PvE. Hopefully this will allow new players to pick one that suits them best. Of course, this is a matter of opinion, and if you have your own order, let me know in the comments below.

Of the eight professions currently available, there are two that wear heavy armour (the soldiers: guardian and warrior), three that wear medium armour (the adventurers: engineer, ranger, and thief), and three that wear light armour (the scholars: elementalist, mesmer, and necromancer). The revenant will be introduced in Heart of Thorns, and is the third soldier profession, but I haven’t played it yet, so it won’t be included on this list.

In order of simplicity to complexity, I would rank the professions thus: warrior, ranger, guardian, necromancer, elementalist, engineer, thief, mesmer.

1) Warrior

WarriorFor new players, you can’t go far wrong with creating a warrior as your first profession. They are easy to play, easy to learn, and wanted in all areas of the game. Their profession mechanic is adrenaline and a single F1 skill tied to their equipped weapon. Hit things to build up adrenaline, unleash your saved-up adrenaline in a powerful burst skill, repeat. They have a wide variety of weapons to deal with all situations (powerful melee and ranged weapons, condition-based melee and ranged weapons, and defensive and control weapons), they have great mobility (thanks to their greatsword, warhorn, and sword skills), they wear heavy armour, have a high health pool, can have strong health regeneration, and their utility skills can provide fantastic party support (shouts and banners). If you want to go simple, play a warrior.

2) Ranger

RangerRangers are pretty simple to play. They can deal great damage, are pretty survivable, and have a pet to help them during battles. Their simplicity comes from having their pet rush in to take aggro from mobs, whilst the ranger safely deals damage from afar. They can play both power builds (longbow being supreme at this) and condition builds (shortbow, sword, torch), and have a range of utility skills to help them either survive or deal damage. For the ultimate in easy-mode pew pewing, equip a longbow, stand at max range, and press 2.

3) Guardian

GuardianBeing another soldier profession, the heavily armoured guardian can stand in the thick of battle and remain unhurt. Their virtues provide them with blocks, health regeneration, and extra burning damage, and thanks to all their skills and utilities, they have great defensive and protection abilities for themselves as well as their allies. This makes the guardian one of the most durable professions in the game, despite their low health pool. They have weapons for all situations, and like the warrior, can wade into most fights and come out on top. If you’re looking to farm events (in PvE or WvW) and tag mobs for loot, you can’t go far wrong with playing a staff guardian (press 1 for loot bags).

4) Necromancer

NecromancerThe first scholar profession on the list comes in at number 4. Necromancers are fairly simple to play, mainly thanks to having a high health pool and a second health bar in the form of Death Shroud, the unique profession mechanic. By using certain weapon and utility skills, and by feeding off the souls of the dead, they build up their life force, and can then switch into Death Shroud for an extra health bar and five unique skills, dealing direct damage, conditions, and fear. Couple this with life stealing skills and the ability to surround yourself with undead minions, and you have an incredibly durable profession, whittling down their opponents through sheer attrition. Necromancers are masters of condition damage and boon removal, able to quickly inflict a wide range of conditions upon their opponents. As well as this, they can also be specced into power damage, with their elite skill Lich Form being able to deal incredibly amounts of damage in a short period of time. Their durability makes them more forgiving to play in terms of mistakes, with the balancing act of managing two health bars pushing them towards being a slightly more complex profession to play.

5) Elementalist

ElementalistThe elementalist can be a tricky profession, or a rather simple one. Their unique mechanic is the ability to attune to the four elements: fire, water, air, and earth. They can’t weapon swap, but each weapon has different abilities depending on which attunement they’re in. Fire is generally more damage based, water is healing, air is mobility, and earth is protection. It can be simple to play as a staff elementalist staying in fire attunement and blasting things at range, or you can play with greater complexity, using traits and skills and attunement swapping to kill your foes and stay alive. Elementalists have light armour and the lowest health in the game, so they rely on killing things quickly, managing their attunements, or staying away from mobs to survive. Their versatility is one of their greatest strengths.

6) Engineer

EngineerLike the elementalist, the engineer can’t weapon swap. They rely instead on utility kits (like a grenade kit, bomb kit, flamethrower, and elixir gun, for example), which give them a fresh set of weapon skills when they’re equipped. Each utility and heal skill also gives a unique F1-4 skill. This allows engineers to be extremely flexible, equipping specific kits and other utility skills (turrets, gadgets, and elixirs) to combat each fresh encounter. It also means that they are rather complex to play, as you need to know and understand many more skills than the other professions, and how they interact with one other. The variety of builds available further adds to making the engineer a complex profession to play.

7) Thief

ThiefThe thief may seem fairly simple, with the single F1 steal skill, but their complexity comes from their squishiness, their initiative, their shadowstepping, and their ability to stealth. They have medium armour and a low health pool, and because they’re often in the thick of the fighting, they can be downed quickly. To prevent this, you have to master dodging around and evading attacks, using the correct thief skills at the precise time. It’s easy to spam skills and then run out of initiative, leaving you incredibly vulnerable. Stealth plays a huge part in thief gameplay, and knowing when to stealth is vitally important, both for survival and for setting up a high damage attack chain.

8) Mesmer

MesmerFinally, we come to what I believe is the most complex profession to play: the mesmer. Mesmers rely on illusions and confusion to win the day. To play one effectively, you need to know about stealth, about the positioning of you and your illusions, about skill times, and about when to shatter your illusions and when to keep them up. The F1-4 skills involve shattering your illusions to create certain effects: Mind Wrack deals damage; Cry of Frustration applies confusion; Diversion dazes foes; and Distortion allows you to evade all attacks. You can trait so that shattering your illusions has extra effects too. They are lightly armoured, so rely on avoiding damage via distortion or stealth. Each chosen weapon and utility skill is vitally important to a mesmer’s chosen role, and there is little room for making mistakes. If you want a challenge, play a mesmer.

There we have it, my run down of the eight professions, from the simplest to the most complex. My most-played professions are currently the warrior, necromancer, elementalist, and engineer, though I have a level 80 of each. It’s nice to just bull rush through content on a warrior, and equally fun to kit-swap and throw grenades on an engineer. I enjoy the difference in complexity, using a profession’s specific abilities to overcome various challenges. It adds to the fun of Guild Wars 2.

Do you agree with this order? Which profession is the most complex for you? Let me know in the comments below!

20 thoughts on “Simplicity And Complexity In Professions

  1. can’t say that i disagree 🙂 its like that after all. well in wvw rangers don’t expect to have their pets alive for long 😛

  2. From the point of view of a semi-hardcore dungeoneer my list would look like this:
    If we were talking about highest end pve I would put Mesmer as most complex too, just because of existance of portal skips. Now my reasoning is as follows: how hard it is to give your party the most a class can offer, in dungeon, when in organised party. So here we go!

    Necro, Warrior and Ranger have relatively low responsibility when it comes to an organised party with Warrior and Necro being an absolute tank even on full glass specs.
    Thief have to think about positioning for backstabs and for stealthing your party mid skip.
    Mesmers have some stealth, but not enough to think too much about when to stop your party for additional smoke field blasting, they do however operate reflects so they need to memorise when to use feedback, trait focus reflects etc. (btw in my opinion mesmer is one of the most survivable melee classes in the game! :x)
    Elems are dps champions, the absolute best, but when not on staff their rotations and might stacking mid fight turns out to be a nightmare and their squishyness doesn’t help! 🙂
    Guardians can carry a party on their back in literally any situation, unfortunately good luck memorising when to give party an aegis, which fight to use reflects, when to give stability all while managing blind spams on trash fight! (thief helps a lot! lol)
    Engineer is on my list only higher (or lower depending how you look at it) than guardian because their dps rotations were made for Korean pro starcraft players! Oh and you can take on the role of thief or elementalist or both because engies are that awesome. 🙂

    I thought my list would be interesting for new players interested in organised dungeons, so here it is! (yes Im elitist scumbag zerker, don’t hate me!) ;D

    I would write about condi cleanses if they were more important in dungeons/fractals but they really are not. (you can count where you need condi cleanses in dungeons on fingers of 1 hand lol)

    I probably made a lot of mistakes language wise, forgive me. 🙁

    btw open world is too easy, you should you know, tell that to Colin or something! xD


    1. Excellent reply, thank you!

      I like how you’ve ordered them based on dungeon runs, that’s really helpful. My list is a more generalised, open world PvE concept, but it’s always useful letting others know how simple or complex professions are in different parts of the game.

      I think it’s true what you say about guardians, how good ones can carry a party and make the runs seem simple. This role certainly pushes guardians into a much more complex playstyle compared to, say, a thief used just in fighting and skipping mobs (Shadow Refuge ftw). I’d still put warrior top though, as I believe they’re super easy to play ^^

      It’s interesting you put engineer as the most complex profession to play in dungeons, and I understand your reasoning. They have a load of different skills and skill timers they need to master to be effective, pushing them into the complexity category. It’s also true they can stack might / stealth as well, replacing elementalists or thieves. Why do you think they’re harder to play than mesmers or thieves though?

    2. Engineer dps rotation is the most complex in the game, there is a huge dps and might generating diffrence betwen nade spamming engi and an engi who does this 20 second long cheat code! It is extremely difficult to dodge what you have to dodge while basically playing piano, compared to thief aa chain>5>backstab and heartseeker rotation with boss at 25%hp or mesmer that basically does aoutoattack with sword and keeps phantasms on the field. Basically it comes down to not needing reflexes of an 6 year old with caffeine problem on thief or mesmer to keep up. There is also the fact that on engi you can “plug” most if not all holes in your team comp and that requires full knowledge about virtually every encounter in the game.


      I agree that playing Warrior might be technically “easier” than necro but the unfortunate truth is necro does not offer much in a dungeon party, while warrior can adjust to the party composition with 3 viable trait spreads. This knowledge with addition to your banners being blast finishers (please point them in the general direction of a fire field dear pugs) makes warrior a little bit more complex. Necro damage rotation also is a bit less demanding in my opinion.

      I might have made horrible spelling or grammar mistakes again, so sorry in advance. 😉

    3. Your spelling and grammar is fine, no need to apologise for it!

      Thanks again for clearing up why engi is complex. Makes a lot of sense now. It’s true about necros too 🙁 Hopefully their specialisation with greatsword will give them some more love in dungeons.

      And so much yes to the banners being blast finishers! So many people don’t know the usefulness of banners, thinking of them as either no good, or nothing more than providing some extra swiftness. Skill 5 is a blast finisher – use it!

      Btw, you should write up an article here on dungeoning, dungeon parties, optimal rotations, builds, etc. Even if it’s just some links to metabattle or other skill sites, I would love to learn more about how you run dungeons. Would be very useful to other players too!

    4. Thanks for the offer, I might honestly do it when I have more free time, in the future, nothing is off the table, maybe, possibly. (don’t take that as a promise though! too much stuff going on irl at the moment) 😀

      I wouldn’t hold my breath about gs being the thing to push necro to viability in “high-end” pve, at this point they need something unique to them, a party wide buff of sorts. (like banners on warr or frost spirit/spotter on ranger) That unique thing could be epidemic too, as we know condi cap is being worked on and in longer encounters with multiple targets this could prove useful, for now tho it’s just empty speculation so Im not going to fantasize anymore. 😉

  3. I like the order of them, Mesmer for sure should be the most difficult one.
    My comment come mostly from WvW and some SPvP, In this case Guard would be the first one, the build diversity in spvp and wvw isnt really there, it all comes down to spam “x” button and your other skills when off cd. Same thing can be said with the ranger.
    The warrior aint that far from that but the adrenaline skill is a bit more situational and after the nerf to it you have to know when if at all to use it.
    Necro is fun but does require a bit more knowledge to use than the first three.
    The 2nd and 3rd places are closely contested, thief can be really easy to use depending on the build; cloak and dagger build is really easy to play, condi thief is a joke and boring, trickery thief is so much fun and requires a lot of awareness.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      Funny you mentioned guardian having little build diversity, as I was writing up another post along those lines ^^ The first three (warrior, ranger, guardian) are all very close in simplicity, I feel. It’s true that the warrior’s adrenaline has made them slightly harder to use, but I still maintain that they’re the easiest profession to play, at least in PvE. If you’re traited to deal more damage with higher adrenaline, you don’t spend it until near the end of the fight. Otherwise, you spend it when you can.

      I spent a while trying to decide if thief or engineer should be number 6, but went with engi cos they’re slightly more survivable. Maybe I just don’t have the playstyle for a thief, which is why I ranked them 7th. Either way, they’re both very close in complexity.

    2. Yes, in terms of PvP, guardian doesn’t really boast that many options.. you can spec into a condi guard with torch, medi guard with either the gs or hammer for either burst or cc’s respectively, or you can play the bunker support that has been ousted from the current meta.
      But still – in terms of complexity of play, I’d rank guardian as more complex then because while you spec into heavy burst DPS you also reduce yourself to a glass cannon who’s often targeted first. Using the mobility skills of your class to evade all that attention while still getting right in the fray to unleash your burst and cleave/stomp takes more than just pressing ‘x’.
      In that regard; from a PvP perspective, your ranking list should float


      all to the top in terms of simplicity of play (as the majority play them). Playing an engineer the “right” way will definitely be much more complex and immediately push them up the complexity scale past warrior and guardian.

    3. So your ranking in PvP would be: ranger, engi, necro, warrior, guardian, ele, thief, mesmer? Am I reading that right?

  4. I like how you’ve ranked the professions.

    Even though I don’t have one of each myself, I’ll agree with your order.

    What I want to try one day for sure is the Mesmer. I love tricky classes, especially in PvP.

    1. I’ll probably make a Mesmer at some point.

      The rest I don’t have are Guardian and Necro both of which I don’t like as a concept. They sort of remind me of Good and Evil.

    2. Just imagine if they’d have given Guardians pistols for their specialisation with class title ‘Enforcer’ or ‘Lawman’ 😉

      Might have been the push to make me change my main (guardian) 😛

    3. You would get a load of “Judge Dredd” names for guardians popping up all over the place.

      I AM THE LAW!

    4. @Tilion: I’d definitely recommend trying them out. Even if you don’t like them as a concept, it’s worth learning their mechanics, especially if you’re fighting them in PvP.

      That way, you may go beyond good and evil, and see them for what they really are (boring guardians and fun necros ^^).

    5. I may do so one day, just for the purpose of PvP.

      I am aware already of how to counter them both, but yeah trying them out myself would give me a better insight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *