Guild Wars 2 – how you broke my heart last night…

Last night Arenanet opened their doors for a few hours to run a stress test on their servers before the next beta weekend. Given how things melted last time I can’t blame them, after all they want their betas to run smoothly because if people can’t get in, nothing is getting tested except patience. So it was with a joyous heart that I worked through yesterday knowing that after the kids were in bed I would get a few hours back in Tyria and what plans I had. Exploring Divinty’s reach was to be the order of the day, but not until I had remapped my keys once more to use my latest purchase, a Razer Naga.

Oh the joy of having so many buttons on a mouse! Surely this would mean I would at last be able to fight effectively, surely this would allow me to do more than dash around stabbing wildly at skills with all the finesse of a drunken idiot.

No. It would appear not. If anything it was worse.

Partly the mouse is to blame – it is too small to use comfortably and many of the thumb buttons are impossible to reach without shifting your grip on the mouse itself.

Partly I am to blame – I am obviously not co-ordinated enough to use so many keys and buttons.

Partly Guild Wars 2 is too blame – their key mapping options may well be extensive but they are far from flexible. To use the mouse effectively I need – NEED –  to be able to bind actions to mouse buttons 1 to 3. Hell, being able to *unbind* from 1 to 3 would be a start!

You see, mouse buttons 1 and 2 (the left & right clickers for simpler folk like me) move the camera around and your character forward so to use them in a battle renders my thumb buttons not only hard to use, but dangerous as the added pressure shifts either my camera view or my character (or, more often then not, both). Imagine trying to have a fight when your guy insists on running forward like a loon and the camera swings about as if someone is playing swingball with it. Hell, 90% the time I never see what I’m fighting except for half-glimpses as the camera shoots past it! I had my arse handed to me in every frigging scrap I went into – in fact I can only put the reason I lasted any time at all in fights down to the bizarre movements I made as I must have confused the hell out of the other players!

Now I don’t know if changing my mouse buttons 1-3 would help much but until they allow me to try I won’t know. In the end I had to go back to using my keyboard alone, this time with yet another experimental key map that made my hands ache within five minutes. I’m back to using my right hand on the number pad to move and dodge whilst using my left hand to space-bar-jump and use the skills, which I moved down to A S D F G Z X C V B. The whole set up feels as natural as chewing lego and as comfortable as putting my hands through a mangle.

After my umpteenth death during which I had no idea what bloody skills were mapped to what bastard letter, and cramp finally made my right shoulder burn as if it were on fire, I gave up. I quit trying World v World and gave up exploring in PvE. I switched it all off and went to watch telly instead and felt my heart break because it looks like I won’t be able to ever really enjoy this game, not when all I’m thinking about is how quickly I’ll die in any given fight and how bloody uncomfortable I am whilst playing it.

Please Arenanet, please let us map actions to ALL mouse buttons. And please give us the option to map an action to more than one key or button.

If you have made it this far down this post dear reader, and you have experience of playing Guild Wars 2 or other MMOs, please could you leave me a comment that explains how you map your keys and buttons and how you fight because if I don’t get better soon, I won’t even bother downloading the final version and I don’t want another Call of Duty experience, I really don’t…


  1. I really have got a problem playing with the keyboard too – think my fingers are too short. My solution to this “problem” was buying a Razer Nostromo. I really love it and it works just fine with Guild Wars 2, because I can reach all the buttons I need 🙂 . Perhaps that’s something for you too?

      1. Left hand is on the Nostromo, right hand is on the mouse. I use the mouse for turning my char and aiming for the mobs. On the Nostromo I have got F1 – F4, numbers 1-10, Space and the F-Key. And I walk with it.
        I hope that’s understandable, if not, just ask, what you want to know – sorry for my english, I am from Germany 😉 .

  2. It’s definitely a tougher transition than one might suspect… I recently purchased a Razer Naga Hex (6 larger, mechanical thumb buttons instead of the 12 dimple buttons on the Naga) and it’s taking me a little while to get used to it. To be honest, I’m still making the adjustment, but it does open up more options and flexibility, and I’m determined to be as flexible as the technology and un-learn my old habits in favor of new, more efficient ones.

    I’m giving serious consideration to mapping all movement to the mouse thumb buttons, and freeing up the keys I would normally use for movement on the keyboard for other bindings. Unfortunately, I’ve been playing various games for many, many years with E,D,A,F as my movement keys, and that muscle memory has become so ingrained at this point that it’s going to take quite a bit of will power to force the change to stick.

    IF (big if there) I’m able to re-map the synapses underneath the grey hair then it would be much easier to have all movement on the right hand, and all skill activation/UI manipulation on the left… in theory at least…

    1. Yeah, I looked at the Naga Hex with exactly the same idea in mind, but I concluded it wouldn’t work when it came to circle straffing. I could be wrong, but I don’t see how the hex buttons could be used for that – if you do get the Hex, please drop me a line to say how it’s working out.

      Jesus, if I buy any more mice I’ll have spent the money I swore I didn’t have to spend on a new phone… I need my bumps feeling!

      1. This could get a little complicated without a diagram, but here goes…

        The Naga Hex buttons are laid out in a “hex” pattern – num2 is forward, num5 is backward,
        num3 is both strafe right AND forward, num6 is just strafe right,
        num 1 is both strafe left AND forward, num4 is just strafe left.
        mouse button4 (the one right behind the mouse wheel) is auto run
        and mouse button 5 (just behind mouse4) is reverse camera or look back.

        Without remapping either the left or right click, I essentially have full control of the camera and the movement of my character (except for Jump(left alt) and Dodge(spacebar) which remain mapped to the keyboard.
        A,S,D,F are mapped to 7,8,9, and 0
        Z,X,C,V are mapped to F1,F2,F3, and F4
        W target nearest friendly, Q next friendly
        R target nearest enemy, T next enemy
        E is also mapped to the #1 which is essentially “auto attack”
        (I have both E and #1 mapped to the first weapon skill because I almost always begin a fight with the first weapon skill, and E is just a LOT easier to hit right next to R or T which I’m using for target acquisition.)
        G swap weapons
        B is the loot/rez/finish them key
        left ALT jump/swim up
        left CTRL swim down
        spacebar is Dodge
        Tab is show all enemy names
        ~ is show all friendly names

        This setup allows for very active movement in combat (essentially “circle-strafing”) while not having to perform a “Twister” style action with my left hand to also be activating all skills. Normally, I’m simultaneously holding down the right click (for camera control) and pressing either num3 or num1 for right or left strafing. My grip on the mouse remains comfortable and firm since I’m applying pressure from both sides simultaneously and continuously.
        For activation of ground targeted skills I prefer to NOT use the auto cast option available in the game. This way a “green reticle” appears and attaches to the mouse pointer for more accurate placement of my AoE skills, and if the mouse pointer is right where I need it already, and I’m confident the skill will be placed correctly I can just “double-tap” the hotkey for the skill for instant placement.

        So far (in the BWE and the stress test yesterday) I’ve been playing most of my characters as “close range” fighters regardless of their profession, (necor, ele, thief, and warrior thus far) and this setup is allowing me to do some fairly “razer’s edge” style fighting. My necro in particular is able to take on stuff that is just crazy. I’ve taken on several “group” mobs which were several levels higher than my necro – solo – and won. These were fights where often if I was hit more than once I was dead.

        I’m not exactly sure what this says about the game to be honest… On the one hand, it’s fantastic that the combat mechanics allow for rewarding of skillful play… On the other hand, if it’s a 1 v 1 fight, and I have room to manuever, I can basically take on any mob in PvE and win – it’s just a matter of how much time the fight is going to take. There are exceptions to this of course, the veteran OakHeart was something I fought when it was 3 levels higher than my character and after 20 minutes it was essentially a draw since we were both able to heal more efficiently than the other could do damage (I had him well below half health several times in that fight though, and if just one other player had shown up for the event I’m positive I could have taken him out… one of the drawbacks of playing ahead of the “zerg.”)

        I have noticed that the “combat scenarios” become increasingly more complex as you advance in levels, and by the time you reach level 20 you are consistently involved in fights that are decidedly NOT 1 v 1, and/or where there is very little room to manuever. Adapt or die.

        My first law of GW2 combat is; Enhance your mobility, while taking away theirs.
        My second law of GW2 combat is; If you’re not moving, you’re dying.
        My third law of GW2 combat is; If there’s no room to move… bring friends.

        I apologize for the length of this comment… sometimes asking me a question can be very dangerous… 😉

        1. Hi Archer – thank you for such a wonderful reply, please don’t apologise as I’m just so grateful you have taken the time to help me understand how you manage (and manage so well) something I’m really struggling with. The odd thing is I don’t struggle with mobile combat in a game like Left 4 Dead, but there the keys required are significantly less than in GW2 and I think it’s that ‘extra’ that is tripping me up. I am always mobile in GW2 combat, but I’m finding that both the character & camera’s movement is erratic and out of control.

          Before you bought the Hex, had you considered the Nostromo? I’m wondering if that might be a better fit for my left hand…

          1. I’ve looked at the Nostromo (for Mrs. ArcherAvatar) since she’s of the “elf” variety, but we ultimately ended up deciding on a new keyboard for her instead. The new keyboard is smaller, and suits her hands better (allows her to reach more keys, more easily) and this, combined with the greater freedom to re-map keys in newer games, makes playing significantly easier for her.

            Personally, I’m an old, RL norn *chuckle* with quite large hands. I use a split, microsoft comfort style keyboard so that my hands and wrists are more comfortable while typing… so basically, only half the keyboard is available to me for “emergency” hotkeys. I don’t mind reaching over to open up inventory or something similar, but the hotkeys that are intrinsic to combat must all be located within easy reach on the left.

            Prior to buyng the Hex, while playing realitively fast paced games like L4D, Borderlands, MassEffect, etc I’ve always used EDAF as my movement keys, and simply tried to “nestle in” all other important hotkey functions around those so they would be close and easily struck when needed. Most of the time this worked just fine. In Borderlands (for example) I might need to hit UseItem, profession skill (singular), reload, run, crouch, and jump during a fight… throw in the inventory, quest log, and map sort of things, and there was still plenty of room on the left side.

            It seems like GW2 is a bit more demanding imo. You’ve got the 4 function keys AND the utility+elite keys (another 4) plus target acquisition, movement modifiers (jump, dodge,etc) and while games like Borderlands certainly have a lot of movement in them, it seems to me that GW2 takes that up a notch… maybe two or three notches actually…

            The purchase of the Hex was expressly for the fact that I foresaw extreme hand cramps in my immediate future if I was going to try to be simultaneously holding down movement keys, while striking numerous and varied skill hotkeys in each and every single combat. It’s still a work in progress… and I have occassionaly hit one of the EDAF keys for movement (hilarity and highjinks insued) simply because I was SO use to them, but ultimately my hands will be much more comfortable with this new setup… it will just take some practice.

            The early returns are very promising, and after reading some of the other impressions around the interwebs, it definitely sounds like I’m having an easier time of it than the majority of folks. Heck, it was a complete News Flash to me that many folks thought “melee” combat was more difficult than “range” combat in GW2… but, I honestly wasn’t playing my characters any differently regardless of what weapon they had equipped. Stay moving, CC the opponent (cripple, chill, immobilize, stun, daze… startle them with foul language… whatever ya got man!) so you can out manuever them, and always, always, always prioritize safety over dps…

            There’s a good reason so many of the “close range” weapons have movement enhancing skills on them – it’s not just a happy coincidence that a thief with a sword equipped has a skill (#2) that will take them to their enemy to hit them AND allow them dance back out of range by hitting that hotkey again within a limited time frame.

            Folks who are claiming that it’s just a “button mash” style game are quite frankly so myopic imo that they should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery in RL. Sure, you “can” simply mash buttons for every skill you’ve got whenever they are not on cool down… actually, this probably goes along way in explaining why some folks think that melee is more difficult… if you’re simply mashing buttons then you don’t have those abilities available to you when you actually strategically need them in the fight.

            By simply staying mobile, and making full use of the enhanced movement capabilities of the professions, I’ve basicaly been playing the entire game in “melee” mode. It’s very exhilarating, fast paced, and perhaps most importantly, effective. Even the “big, bad, bosses” get attacked with close range as far as I’m concerned, but I don’t run up to them, stand in front of them, and button mash all skills mindlessly. Keep ’em turning, slow their ability to get “faced up” correctly to hit you, bounce in and out of their melee range so that you hit them, but don’t allow them to hit back, and there’s no reason you can’t use whichever weapons you want.

            Having said that, I should also point out that I’m not adverse to backing out and swapping to a different weapon temporarily if they do land a hit on me and I need to heal up before re-engaging. Most of the folks having trouble seem to be either stuck in “old paradigm,” playing lazy, and/or playing stubborn. If what I’m doing at the moment isn’t working, I’m not adverse to trying something else, and I usually don’t try to “blunt force” my way through things. The encounters in GW2 have hidden complexity to them, and if you’re not paying attention, something like “Dat Shaman” will pop up and smack you down. The Fire Shaman in the charr starting area actually isn’t that difficult, but if you’re not looking at what he’s buffing himself with, then you can, quite painfully, kill yourself for him. (He puts on a “retaliation” style buff that reflects damage at certain points in the fight… Dat Shamans don’t kill people… people kill people.) Some professions (necro with focus item skill #5 for example) have the ability to remove boons from opponents. I found the Dat Shaman fight significantly easier on that character…

            Ack… rambled again! Obviously, I’m really loving the gameplay in even just the unfinished beta so far. My enthusiasm gets the better of me at times.

            Um, back on topic… I would suggest taking a look at some of the smaller, more condensed keyboards that are available these days. You retain the full functionality of a regular keyboard, but gain easier access to a greater number of keys. (Especially true for folks unhampered by meaty bear paws for hands… lucky bastards!)

            1. Hi Archer, and thanks again for such a detailed and helpful reply – if I never get this licked it won’t be for want of help!

              I *think* I have a slightly different problem. I wouldn’t say I have Norn mitts yet nor do I have the flappers of an Assura. My hands are human enough but I find my fairly large keyboard not large enough – my paws soon become claws as they hover over the bound keys like expectant vultures. I feel as though I need a pad that just fits to my hand and removes the need for a keyboard entirely… which sounds sort of like the Nostromo, doesn’t it? God damn I’m talking myself into spending another bloody £50 here!

              Part of the trouble is my lack of co-ordination and no amount of fancy controllers will solve that – I’ve never yet managed to use an Xbox style control for anything. Ever. It seems that when a game asks both my hands to effectively do two things my poor dumb brain just shuts up shop and fucks off home for a cup of tea and a bath.

              Another part of this is that I don’t have the tools I need to practice. Aside from the game not actually being open for me to experiment, I can’t exactly borrow a Nostromo, or even get one in time to try it out. I’m going to have to blow £50. Buggeration.

              I’m actually looking forward to getting better at the combat in GW2, not so I can take on PvP or anything competitive like that, but so I can actually enjoy the dynamic events in PvE. At the moment I’m ok if I’m there with a group of people, but when on my own or with one other I get slaughtered good and proper.

              I think I’ll order a Nostromo and practice strafe-fighting in LOTRO, at least that will give me some idea of how to do it in GW2 – just need to add the dodge 😉



                1. Oh man… I’m really curious about two things… you have to tell us how well the LCD works in game, and I’m incredibly curious about the mini joy stick on that thing! Seriously, I demand a follow up report after the next BWE for GW2! I may have another purchase to make…

                  1. I wondered about the LCD too – what the hell will it tell me and why would I be looking at that and not the screen were my first thoughts. Not sure how the thumb stick will work out for me – I have horrible memories of trying to play Goldeneye at my mate’s house many moons ago and being totally hopeless.

                    Essentially the only way I’m going to get better is through practice – new gear might help in terms of comfort, but I will need to grow a pair and practice more.

                    1. My hubby owns the G13 – but after he tested my Nostromo he said, he prefered the Nostromo. He thinks the mini joystick there is more comfortable to use 😉 .
                      But people are different and I really hope you will like playing with the G13, and you can finally enjoy playing Guild Wars 2 🙂 .

                    2. I could not agree more with that sentiment. It’s tricky getting away from old habits and forming new ones, but as long as the new ones are better then it’s well worth the effort, and I think it’s good to keep the ol’ grey cells on their toes.

                      Follow up question on the G13; Do you keep the regular keyboard on hand also for communications in game? What if you need to type a message to someone? With things like ventrillo and teamspeak, etc. it’s a lot easier to communicate with folks in games these days, but you do still occassionally need to type a message too…

                      I can’t wait to hear how things go in the next BWE for you.

                2. I was thinking about getting one of those too but I don’t want to spend $80 more on a game I just paid $60 for. I’m not going to play other MMOs — it’s GW2 or none. I’m not a hardcore gamer. But I will be very curious to learn about your experience with the G13.

  3. I know the feeling but from a similar but opposite perspective. I’m left-handed. I have re-mapped movement to the numeric keypad with the basic functions there as well (interact, dodge, jump, target). So I’m clicking on skills and targeting effects while trying to move with the keypad. Razer doesn’t even make a gaming mouse for the left hand and the Nostromo is not switchable either. I haven’t seen any posts for key maps for the left hand for GW2 either. This system worked well in GW1 but with the dynamic combat in GW2, I’m down too much. It saddens me because I really want to enjoy this game but the interface leaves me in the dirt too often. I’m open to suggestions as well. Thanks!

    1. Disclaimer: I’m not left-handed… so all of this could be completely useless…

      First, I wouldn’t go all the way over to the numpad. Try using the right-hand side of the keyboard instead so you can have access to a greater number of keys more easily. For example, the right hand normally rests (in the typing position) with the index finger on the J and the pinky finger on the ; …so, I would recommend something like
      I forward
      K backward
      J left
      ; right
      which would be the mirrored counterpart to my standard EDAF on the left side of the keyboard, perhaps that’s not the fingers you use for each direction and you would switch it up to suit your personal tastes, but hopefully you get the idea.

      In this scenario you would be remapping the skills normally associated with the 1-6 keys to the 7 thru =/+ key.

      With your hand resting in the natural typing position, you should have relatively easy access to approximately 21 keys besides the 4 used for standard movement. Obviously, you’ll need to re-map keybinds extensively, but imo folks should never be afraid to customize their keybinds anyway… I always do so, and I’m not left-handed.

      There is one other thing, which I’ve done on my Hex mouse setup, but which you could also do with keys on a keyboard that I would recommend folks try if they’re having difficulty maintaining good, tactical movement during fights… you can can bind more than one key to the same function, AND you can bind more than one function to the same key, SO in addition to whatever keys you would normally use for “forward” and “strafe left/right” I would suggest combining those two movement functions on a single key as well. In this way, instead of having to hold down both your “forward” and “strafe left” keys while simultaneously striking addtional keys for skills, you can just hold down one key to get the same effect of “forward+strafe left” and with only one finger occupied doing that it will be at least a little bit easier to strike the other keys you use for weapon/healing/utility skills at the same time. This is significant because the game allows you to move FASTER in a circular motion (if you’re holding down the right click for camera control) if you’re doing both forward and strafe at the same time instead of just strafe.

      Also, teach yourself to take control of the camera during combat by pressing and holding down the right click on the mouse (or the equivalent if you change that to accomodate your handedness) because combining active control of the camera with forward+strafe movement means you’re correctly facing the mobs for your attacks while simultaneously keeping them constantly turning to try and get faced up correctly to attack you. Combined with a snare of some type (cripple, chill, etc) this tactic will prevent the mobs from being able to hit you while you are able to go to town on them.

      I’m not saying this comes naturally to a person the instant they try it… there is some practice time required, but if you get this technic down then a great deal more of the PvE game will open up for you. Btw, it should go without saying but, players are not the same as mob AI, and this technic is strictly being recommended for PvE use… PvP is a whole other animal altogether (and imo actually somewhat easier at this stage because so many players are still getting use to the game mechanics.)

      Also, I hope I’m not “out of line” in replying to a fellow reader here… not sure what the protocol for that is on this blog. I apologize if I’ve overstepped. Good intentions and all that…

      1. EDIT:
        I just realized that I was using the customization option of the Razer Hex mouse to have one thumb button press perform two in-game functions. The GW2 UI definitely allows you to bind more than one key to the same function, but I’m not sure it lets you bind more than one function to the same key…

        Hopefully the info that HBA provided about a left-handed version of the Razer mice being available sometime in the future will prove to be more helpful.

      2. This is very helpful. Thanks!

        My remap in the 1st BWE I set up for the right side of the keyboard one key to the left (i.e., the index finger on the “H” instead of the “J” to reach the “6” better and open more keys.) My keyboarding muscle memory rebelled against that terribly and I was useless. I kept reverting back to what is ‘natural.’ On Sunday I remapped to the numeric keypad (which I used in GW1) and clicked. It was better but clicking is ‘failure’ in GW2. I tried it through the stress test and it’s deadly.

        So my final consideration is like you suggested here to remap on the natural right side and learn to mouse-move. I am thinking of doing a remap in GW1 to practice before the next BWE. I don’t play other MMOs so I really don’t want to spend money on new accessories.

        I’m just not sure about the remapping in GW2 to allow for an action to have two keystrokes since the interface gives the action and then the key is assigned, not vice versa. So I’m not too certain about your “forward+strafe” idea. But I haven’t tried to assign an action to more than one key so maybe it is possible. But I won’t be able to check that out until the next BWE.

        If I can’t get this figured out, I guess my time in GW2 will be spent crafting and trading. *sigh*

  4. Ohhh, I can’t reply any further in that thread! Damn!

    @Akascha – I wondered about the comfort of the joystick too – I’m not sure what (or even if!) I’ll use it for 🙂

    @Archer – I have desk with a slide out part for the keyboard – I plan to have the mouse and G13 on the desk and the keyboard below for chatting only. Part of my difficulty is a buggered right shoulder that really doesn’t like being in one position for too long and the top part of the computer desk proves… problematic but I’ll see how it goes. I think I’ll be burning through painkillers for a few days after the next BWE 😀 I’ll be reporting back, I promise. In fact once I get the G13 I’ll try it with LOTRO and let you know what I think then.

    1. I think you will use it – that thing is great 😀 – don’t know how I could have played without it 😉 . I am really looking forward to read about your experiences 🙂 . Sure you will have to pratice a little, but it’s worth the time!

      @Archer: Sure you need the normal keyboard too for things like chatting. But normally you don’t fight and chat at the same time, so that’s no problem. My keyboard lies between the Nostromo and my gaming mouse, so I can reach them all comfortably.

      1. Thank-you for being so nice in answering such a dufus question. *chuckle* I should have realized that is how someone would do it… the layout didn’t occur to me because I have my keyboard in my lap while I’m playing, and my mouse to the right side of my chair.

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