Guild Wars: Of Heroes and Henchmen

Guild Wars is meant to be played by multiple characters.  You could put a group of other players together to do everything, but these days, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed.  The game has been out for a long time so populations are down and many of those still playing have already done the content several times over.  When you can’t or won’t find other people to group with, or have space to fill, the game provides an alternative: NPC help.  This help comes in two varieties.

Notice I have a henchman targeted in the box next to the + sign.  I have one hero in my party (with a horrid build) and there's still space so I also see the hero drop down menu.  You access the pet bar by clicking the number next to the hero's name.

Notice I have a henchman targeted in the box next to the + sign. I have one hero in my party (with a horrid build) and there’s still space so I also see the hero drop down menu. You access the pet bar by clicking the number next to the hero’s name.

Every campaign has “Henchmen,” which are AI-controlled NPCs that you can assign to your party.  Left-click one and then click the [+] icon in the party menu to add them.  You can see in their tag what kind of character they are.  These tags can just be their profession, but often you will get tags like “healer,” “illusionist,” and “spirit.”  These are meant to convey particular builds.  If you see an Illusionist henchmen, then you know (or could look up) that they are a mesmer who specializes in illusion magic.  You can always look up their skill sets online if you’re really interested or have no idea what, for example, an illusionist memser does.

You cannot change henchmen skills or gear and cannot provide tactics beyond telling them to stand in a particular place (called “flagging”) or calling out a target using the Ctrl key.  In addition, their level is based on where you enter a region from.  Suppose that there is an explorable area, Area X, between Town A and Town B.  In Town A, you see that the henchmen are level 10, but in Town B, they are level 12.  If you enter Area X from Town A, your henchmen will be level 10, but if you go to Town B first and then enter Area X, they will be level 12.  This is meant to give the illusion that they are leveling with you, since you would not likely backtrack, but continue on to Area Y where foes are a higher level.  However, you will easily out-level them and it makes it annoying when you want to go back to low-level areas and have to use low-level henchmen.

By clicking on the portraits in the skills or inventory menu, you can swap between whose build and gear you're looking at.

By clicking on the portraits in the skills or inventory menu, you can swap between whose build and gear you’re looking at.

Meanwhile, “Heroes” are a step or ten above henchmen for several reasons.  They’re still stupid and have similar AI issues as henchmen.  However, unlike henchmen, they gain their own XP and level up, meaning none of that taking low-level henchmen into areas nonsense.  In addition, you control what skills they have on their bar and their attributes.  You can modify their armor with runes & insignias and change their weapons.  If that wasn’t enough, each one has a pet bar that allows you to set their general behavior, set a specific target for that hero, and micromanage their skills.  In a nutshell, heroes are henchmen that you can level up, gear out, and give specific builds to compensate for them being stupid.

Now that you know heroes are far better than henchmen, how do you get them?  You must have Nightfall or the Eye of the North (EotN) expansion in order to get heroes, who are specific NPCs within those stories.  If you only have Prophecies and Factions, you are out of luck.  With one exception, you must also start one of those storylines to actually get the heroes.  That lone exception is a golem dervish named M.O.X. who you can get outside the port city in a campaign if and only if you are at least level 10 and own all three of the starting campaigns (EotN not required and doesn’t count).

My recommendation for getting heroes if you’re not a Nightfall character is to first acquire M.O.X. since you will be far past level 10 by the time you reach him in Factions or Prophecies.  Then, to go to Kaineng Center and grab the quest “Sunspears in Cantha.”  That will start Nightfall and within a few quests, you will be given a warrior, two monks, a dervish, and your choice of either an elementalist or a ranger.  If you can hang with the questline for a little bit longer still, an NPC will offer you the optional quests to recruit an assassin (Factions required) and a necromancer (Prophecies required) while you’re on the Consulate Docks.

This is M.O.X. standing outside Kamadan.  It also stands around outside Lion's Arch and Kaineng Center.

This is M.O.X. standing outside Kamadan. It also stands around outside Lion’s Arch and Kaineng Center.

If you are a Prophecies character, grab “Mhenlo’s Request” in order to unlock Kaineng and Factions first.  Why?  Remember what I said about henchmen levels?  Henchmen in Lion’s Arch are level 10, but in Kaineng, they’re level 20.  Regardless of which “Sunspears” quest you take, you will fight level 18-24 enemies, so going from Kaineng will make things far easier.  If you have to go from Lion’s Arch, recruit help if possible and good luck!

To start EotN, you need to be level 10 or higher and have a secondary profession.  Then take the appropriate quest from any port (the pop up message will inform you of which NPC to talk to).  If you start EotN, you will receive an elementalist and monk immediately and a mesmer very shortly after that.  Later heroes require quite a bit of time investment and if all you want is some heroes, I suggest skipping the rest until you are ready to do EotN in earnest.  It is fewer heroes overall, but it’s an option.  You will be fighting level 20 or higher enemies, but you will be buffed if you’re not level 20 yourself.

You are free to return to your desired campaign at any time with any heroes in tow.  Provided you at least give them decent builds, they will make your life much easier than trying to rely entirely on henchmen.  Of course, some players will opt for the “way it was meant to be” and play with only henchmen for the first two campaigns.  Your choice, obviously.  There are many more heroes to acquire (almost 30 in total), but you will have to work your way even further through Nightfall or EotN to get them.  Any time you have a free spot in your party, you can add any hero you have through a dropdown menu.

I think I’ve rambled on enough about that.  My next article on heroes will be in more detail about their AI and what makes good builds for heroes as opposed to players.  As always, feel free to leave comments, questions, compliments, or tales of heroic adventures below.

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