Rift Team PvP Tactics Guide

Rift Team PvP Tactics Guide by Aerelith

There are a lot of guides on how to employ specific techniques for your class, but there are few that discuss how to synergize as a team. I believe this is because there is a component of ego stroking in PvP that often gets in the way of teamwork. These same people complain about certain abilities or classes being overpowered when they run in to a good team. They run into a team that completely shuts down the efficiency of their individualist ways and then suddenly healing or some class is OP.

If there is anything you should take from this guide it is one thing: There is nothing more OP than teamwork.


This game has 4 roles in PvE that are clearly defined: Tank, Heal, Support, Damage. When you step into a dungeon or raid, everyone already knows thier role and what to do.

PvP has several more roles that are more difficult to appreciate how they subtley change battlefield mechanics. These are just a few of the roles I have played (or seen played) effectively in PvP and why they win battlegrounds:

1) Disruptive Tank – This is a melee tank character that pushes in to the enemy front lines and starts creating as much havoc as he/she can. The goal of this character is to get as many members of the other team to attack them as possible to make the job of healers in the WF easier. Giving healers the ability to pocket heal one tough SOB makes a HUGE difference. The dirsuptive tank also causes enemy healers to scramble and can sometimes stretch other players out of healing range when front lines advance but back lines don’t. The weakness of a disruptive tank is a lack of burst damage. Its not about kill count, its about neutralizing enemy dps by causing them to focus on the wrong person. The counter to the disruptive tank is to ignore them to a great extent since they rarely can (on their own) kill a player. They become dangerous if they are being used as the ranged dps team target selector.

2) The Isolator – An isolator is any player with an ability that can pull an enemy player out of the mob. These players are key to singling out other players for killing. It allows melee DPS to fight from your own front lines instead of at risk in the enemy front lines. There really is no counter to an Isolator. If you have one on your teamthis player’s target is your dps team’s target selector.

3) The Positionist – Think of this character as the player who estabilishes territorial advantage. Thier job is to move the enemy team off of strategic ground. This can be accomplished by any player with effecitve and visible AOE capability. Some people think this is not useful, but it is incredibly useful for capturing objectives like the bridge in Port of Scion or the Codex, either as a deterant to capturing the flag, to push an established team away from the flag, or to force players on the high ground to either back out of LOS of the flag or jump into the fray. The positionist synergizes very well with an isolator. If a positionist is forcing a retreat of the enemy then the isolated target is that much more likely to be out of range of healing, has to run further to get to safety, and has a minefield of AOEs to navigate when doing so. Dominators make the best positionists.

4) The Dominator – No PvP team is complete without one (or more) of these. There is no other class in the game designed to incapacitate a player like a Dom and stormshackle also synergizes very well with an isolator. Mana drains are still useful, though nerfed somewhat now that most classes have a mana regeneration ability. There are guides to effecitve Dominator in PvP and I recommend you look them up.

5) The Cockroach Lightbulb – This is a player that causes the other team to break ranks, often causing the enemy back lines separate from the front lines. This is effective because running healers are not effective healers and often cause players to get out of range. Scattering the enemy team doesn’t earn you very many kills, but it does put your team in a better position to kill when the other team is healer intense. The premiere spec for this is a Rogue Sab. If you’ve ever played one, you’ll know why.

6) DPS – there really is only one DPS spec that matters: Single target burst. All DPS should turn on the cast on target of target setting in their game and select a player who is playing either role 1 or 2 above as their focus. If you’re picking your own enemy target, you’re doing it wrong and you’re the reason why your team can’t kill anybody.

7) Pocket Healer – a pocket healer is a tank healer in a WF. They have one goal – keep the target selector alive, even at the cost of their own life.

8) Warfront Healer – look up class specific guides for PvP healing. Last on the list, but probably the most important. You need 1 healer for every 5 players in the BG to have a good chance.

How to spec your character

There’s only one important thing of note here – have more than one spec available for play and fill in where you’re needed. Its not about leader boards in kill count or damage – its about playing your role effectively. Find where you’re needed and fill that hole. Watch the battlefield and adjust. For example, if the enemy ranks are too uniform and stationary, switch to a cockroach lightbulb or positionist role.

How to work as a team

This is not rocket science, it is actually common sense.

1) You are not alone. Don’t charge in alone. This is very important when respawning after death. If it looks like your team is being wiped out of a spot, don’t trickle back in to a hopeless battle. Wait for more to respawn and then move as a team. Its better than trickling in and feeding them free kills.

2) WF leader marks enemy healers. They have to be plainly visible. I recommend using the new colored marks when possible as they are much easier for a team to see. If you fail to do this, you make the targetter and disruption roles a lot more difficult.

3) Focus your fire. To do this, communicate who the primary and secondary targetters are to the WF. Your team needs to know who picks who dies. Hopefully that person isn’t an idiot, but if your whole WF is attacking through one person it won’t really matter – whoever is chosen will die before an enemy healer can figure out who got targetted.

4) Shut up. Concern yourself with your own gameplay and making yourself better. The one thing you don’t want to do is insult your team even if they suck. If you have to talk, be constructive, not critical. Its bad enough if your team gets off to a bad start. Its worse if everyone is stopping to type insults at eachother. Always resist shouting at a troll.

5) Play your role. You just have to trust your team mates to do their job. You’re there to do something that helps the team complete an objective. If you’re playing any one of the roles above, you’re helping create a team dynamic that will win a WF.

Good luck out there and have fun.


Its time to expand upon this topic. I think the next logical step for this thread is to talk about team mechanics on specific warfronts.

But before I get into that, I want to address a couple more important roles that were not addressed in my original post.

9) The TTK Extender – This unique role can be played most effectively as a Defiler, but can alternately be played by any class that can effectively intercept damage. The prime mechanic behind this role is the defiler link. This role is highly effective and extremely important in team play as it is the only way for a player to stand a chance against coordinated burst fire. The reason this is effective is a few fold:

a) These abilities turn burst single target damage attacks into AOE attacks that can be better absorbed in raid healing.

b) This is the only form of un-nerfed healing that automatically scales to the level of threat. In other words, if a healer is attempting to keep another player alive who is being focussed by dps, that healer is effectively trying to fill a cup that is being poured out. However, the hose the healer has to fill the life bar with is limited to a fairly sustained rate of heal (hps). Damage on the other hand can burst in large spikes. With a link that intercepts damage, this form of healing automatically scales with the spikes and becomes MORE effective as MORE damage comes in. It also continues to work while the linker is stunned or silenced.

c) A 30% link is equivalent to a 46% increase in health and healing received on the target. This effectively increases TTK by 100% and cannot be ignored.

This role is HIGHLY effective in small scale skirmishes of 3 – 5 players where increased TTK of a couple players really stacks the odds in favor of one side.

10) The Buff Shield – A role that really is well played by any Bard. This isn’t a role so much as a very kick *** side effect. The bard motifs take priority when purges are flying at your team – and that protects your team’s overall output.

11) The Anti-AOE/Buff Stripper – A role that really is owned by the Archon mage with the Purging Flames talent. Combined with the new “@gtae” macro target modifier, this role can make or break a big zerg vs zerg battle. Archons that spam cleansing flames on their party take Dominators right out of the equation. And when targeted at the enemy raid can spam purge 10 buffs every GCD – something that cannot be overlooked. Purging removes 30% effectiveness from the other team and forces them to burn GCDs to rebuff. Cleansing effectively removes all CC and dramatically decreases AOE damage to the party – allowing your team to own a position with stacked force. This role is most effective in warfronts with 1 objective where two large teams (10 or more players) will be fighting for control of a single resource.

Now… on to warfront specific team tactics. As a preface, I would like to state that what I am about to divulge is up for debate. There are so many permutations that effect a warfront that there really is no one strategy that works. What is stated here is (in my experience) the strategy that I notice most often wins a particular warfront, along with some information of how to play from behind and sometimes steal a win.

Library of the Runemasters – This warfront is a small warfront with large scale battles. Usually the team that achieves central control first wins – as the team on the shorter end of that stick ends up spending the rest of the match trickling into the center 5 men at a time every 30 seconds. Because of the relatively close quarters of the map and additional pain from holding the rune vessels, team make up of the 10 players very much decides the outcome of the match. I prefer a team with 1 Tank, 5 DPS, 2 Healers, 1 Dominator and a Defiler. A tank is preferred vs an isolator in this scenario just to attract attention and ease the healer burden.

If you find yourself on a team that has lost the middle, it is often effective to split resources as a counter. The lower pit area is great to create line of sight issues that force the team that is holding middle to separate and break line of sight. A team of 2 players (dps + heal/defiler) can draw 3-4 players off the center – and usually the center control healers do not pursue. This can give your team a chance to overtake the center if timed correctly. Never lose sight of grabbing stones. Even a team that can’t hold the middle can control 2 stones for much of the match, and is oddly well positioned when the remaining 2 stones appear to get a 4-2 stone advantage at the end. More than a few matches have been won by crafty underdogs even when teleport camped simply by controlling the stones in the lower areas and biding time.

The Codex – This warfront is perhaps the best warfront for small scale 3-5 man teams to make a huge impact on the game. All I can say is that if you plant a solid 3 – 5 man team at the flag closest to the enemy base, you will 4 cap this vs any pug team. Why does this work? Respawns are stupid and players at Dex get bored. Even if you sacrifice the Codex in the first part of the match, as players on the enemy team die, they will trickle in to the first command point. At first, one or two will trickle down and get wiped. Then you will start getting 2 waves of 2 at a time (you have 4 of the enemy team essentially trapped at spawn). Then you will get waves of 3 to 4 at once (now you have 6 – 8 of the enemy players trapped at spawn). Eventually they abandon the Dex to be held by a mere 2-3 players, and that’s when the other 10 players on your team overpower them at Dex, and then come join you at the enemy’s first command point.

Karthan Ridge – This warfront is about stone control. Two stones – keep them together. If you have a pocket healed tank that can grab a stone fast and drive the other team to defend the local field command point early you can usually split the enemy team early and establish center control. The ideal play-out is as follows:

Grab both stones. Break the close command point. Return to mid and grab second stone. Drive both stones the opposite path and push one stone past the 2nd command point towards center with zerg so that the defenders back off the command point to stop from losing mid while you cap with the other stone. Two players return to mid to collect stone respawn while the rest of the team pushes the zerg to the final cap point. The capping team needs to establish a perimiter to win. Always push the body of the zerg past the first two capture points so you team can cap. On the 3rd point, don’t let the defending team off the stairs from their spawn.

If your team loses center control, try to hold on D at middle point. If you can wipe the party and establish control of the two stones, you will have a chance to turn the match around. DO NOT RUN OFF IF YOU CAP ONE STONE. Hold the stone on D and let the 2nd one come to you until you have control of both stones.

Black Garden – With any single command point choked map, the need for Archons and Dominators cannot be expressed highly enough. Stack up tight on the archon and let him/her spam that cleanse/purge all day. This map is all about holding the command point IN THE CENTER of the map. Don’t run back by the tree. Hold it in the center till you die and use the death spires to LOS the enemy but be mindful of your healers. MUST HAVE A DEFILER for this warfront as well to increase TTK on the fang holder.

Escalation – Black Garden – This map is great fun for small teams and the most effective strategy is to form 3 smaller teams out of the raid. Try not to cleanse unless you’re holding 3 orbs. Its ok to cleanse with 2. If you have 1, don’t bother… go get more orbs. This map can be won from the underdog position by holding the cleanse points fairly easily as long as you have 1 or 2 players trickling in to mid to keep the majority of the brainless fraggers on the enemy team interested in staying in the middle. The enemy team will trickle the orbs to your team in small groups of 2 to 3, where a good small team will overcome if you can’t hold the middle. If you have established middle control, always move as a big zerg when everyone has all they can carry and overpower the command point to start cleansing. The key to victory is 3 orb cleansing on the command point you control – failing to cleanse 3 at a time results in deactivating your cleanse mechanism faster and putting your team at a scoring disadvantage.

Escalation – Whitefall Steps – As with Black Garden, this is a choked map over center control that is slightly more friendly to kiting that Black Garden but otherwise the same general tactics apply. Hold the middle and stop the thieves is really the winning strategy.

Port of Scion – Best win chance is to RUN STONES by holding the courtyard in front of the church. The sub strategy here is to command the bridge respawn point to put you in the best position to do just that. Once again, this WF often plays like a command point choked map and the Archon’s cleanse spam is extremely important in holding the bridge area. ALWAYS RUN ONTO THE FLAG AND BACK SIDE OF THE BRIDGE. Give your team the best territory to fight from. If you’re bottle necked on one of the side ramps your team is AOE fodder with mobility issues. When you own the bridge or are assaulting the bridge, Isolators are huge – especially VK pulls that grab 5 healers out of the back lines. This really pressures the enemy team.

If you lose the bridge fight, the match isn’t over. In fact, you can hurt the other team bad by immediately going for the Idols. Breaking the idols and killing the sub commanders will grant your team 200 points and give your team a way to take the bridge back whenever you want. Simply zerg the boss and force them to come off the bridge to defend. On top of that you’ll be blocking their ability to run stones – making holding the bridge worthless. Then, if they manage to wipe you from the boss, your respawning team will have a numbers advantage to take the bridge and reverse the situation.

If you have the courtyard well in hand, Grab Ith and drag him into the courtyard. Killing him is almost a guarantee to push the enemy team back to their spawn – a position that if held will completely demoralize the enemy team and guarantee a win.

A small team of stone running killers is highly effective on this map if you do not have bridge control and will often result in the enemy diverting resources from holding the bridge just to clean your team out of the run path.

The alternate approach to this WF is the boss zerg strategy – which is significantly easier to accomplish if you’re on the guardian side due to the map layout. There’s a direct line under the bridge that takes you straight to the 2nd idol for a quick kill and then by back tracking only slightly, ranged DPS can take out the first idol from a ramp on the riverside without ever being in LOS of defiant spawns – and the zerg is always fighting from past the respawn point instead of having enemy players spawn as obstacles. Then DPS is positioned in a better location to attack the lieutenant as they run to the first idol because they are between the idols when they break it – giving them further speed advantage. Not only that, but there’s a longer ranged LOS capability for guardians when attacking the boss to fend off enemy attempts at defending. The ramp prevents your melee from being effective because the zerg attacking the boss can rain death at range as the team is running in.

Defiants, on the other hand are best served running past the porticulum and down to the first idol, using the pit to LOS guardians, then have to work their way around to the 2nd idol via the normal paths. Defiants also have to wait longer for the first lieutenant to run into range before attacking. Travel time is worse for the defiant team than the guardian team due to the layout in a pure race scenario.

Because of all this, the boss zerg strategy is heavily in favor of the Guardian team and really should be attempted more often.


I will not comment on CQ team strategies in this. It would be nice if someone from ABL or ROD would throw a bit of info up on zerg vs zerg strategies.

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