There is something exhilarating that continues to evolve as our family plays Guild Wars.
What really shines is the system built into Guild Wars for combat. I call the system a Respond, React and Act type of combat.
Thanks to the limit that GW puts on your skill bar, you must, accordingly, choose the proper skills for what you wish to accomplish. Eight skills is not a lot to work with, yet, thanks to how fast a lot of them work, and how you must react to what is happening, the game becomes more "Action" oriented than most slowbie combat MMO's (examples of massive slow is Vanguard, EQ2, LOTRO). There seems to be a metagame here on how you must line up skills, and of course gaining and capturing skills (another mini game in itself..read about the Signet of Capture here if you are not aware of this trick). But, that is another story...
So, lets see how a typical combat round can run for a group that is well kitted.
Respond - First "response" means that you use any skills that help you become efficient. Examples may be skills that make energy use cost less for skills, makes skills refresh quicker, enhance health, etc. There are a multitude of various tricks to play around with. I usually try and take one per skill bar.
REACT - "React" means to take care of detriments to you the player. Health drains, hexes, etc are all types of detriments a player may get (bleeding or poison is an example of a condition, and are a detriment to the players capabilities). You will then use skills that will remove these, or hope that if you do NOT have that capability, then another player is a Monk, Necromancer or other class who can remove these.
ACT - Acting upon enemies with attack skills, your own detriments to the mobs, etc. Or, if you are playing a healer, to use healing type skills.
Now, this is the system I have been using since I have been playing. As you grow with your character and class, you may find alternative methods to each of these.
Recently, which you can see in the image above, I decided to go Ritualist / Monk. The Ritualist class from Factions is unique in that it has a pet system that summons non-movable (unless you have a skill to do this) spirits that attack, heal, cause detriments, etc.
My system of Respond, React and Act followed this course..
Respond - Summon 2 spirits, one who steals health and the other who would attack and disrupt mobs.
React - Watch players in the group who would receive detriments and remove these. I carried both condition removal skills and hex removal skills (hexes are unique in usually causing a player to either drain health as they attack, or slow them down, etc.)
Act - Since I was a healer type, I would avoid attacking here. So, as a Monk, I would instead act by healing players who needed to have their health renewed. If not capable, or character dies, then Resurrect if possible.
Now that I have gained Heroes, a form of NPC that follows a player, like henchmen, I have moved away from the heal class. One particular Hero makes an excellent healer, so I am now attack based, with more spirits and damage attacks.
Each type of playstyle is difficult in it's own way. For example, being a Mesmer puts a player more into a class of causing detriments to mobs (or other players in PvP) and can be difficult to play (as my wife found out, who has decided to go back to her Elementalist caster now, and put the Mesmer on the backburner). On the other hand, he Elementalist is the true notion of DPS we see so often spoken of in the MMO realm.
Anyways, I just wanted to throw this out there. I truly admire the combat system in GW, and wish more games would look to this style of layout. The multibar systems of most MMO's gets tiresome and unwieldy in nature. The fast, sleek systems of Guild Wars make for a fun and exciting outing everytime I play.
Mastering it is truly the players battle. Using the R, R, A system I describe is just one method to get the most of of your playtime.