The time has come. You’ve summoned your Primeval and it’s time to win the round. The most effective way forward to the finish line depends on your team setup. Let’s go over the different strategies that can be employed during the Primeval phase.
First, it’s important to realize that the main way to deal damage to the Primeval is to attack it with stacks of a buff called Primeval Slayer. Primeval Slayer is gained by destroying the Primeval Envoys that escort the Primeval. Primeval Slayer is also gained over time as the Primeval phase goes on. Finally, bonus stacks of Primeval Slayer can be granted to the team that summons second if the first team to summon is ahead by more than three stacks. Primeval Slayer stacks up to ten times.
Next, the other important part of the Primeval phase is the potential for invasions. Whenever a team summons a Primeval, the other team’s invasion portal will go live for the duration of the round. Both teams summoning means that both teams can invade each other until the round ends. Whenever a Guardian dies during the Primeval phase when an invader is present, the Primeval will regain health. Invasions can be used not only to slow teams who have recently summoned the Primeval, but also to support the opposing team’s damaged Primeval while the invader’s team works on their own Primeval.
Now, when the Primeval enters the arena, it will be accompanied by two Primeval Envoys and a wave of enemies based on the type of Primeval spawned. Captains will spawn Vandals, Ogres will spawn Thrall, Minotaurs will spawn Hobgoblins and Centurions will spawn Phalanxes. The type of Primeval spawned will determine how safely you can engage the Primeval with or without taking on the adds that it spawns as well.
From here, there are two general strategies. While some players may have more in-depth and nuanced strategies, this is a general look at two mostly successful strategies and their strengths, weaknesses and requirements. Regardless which strategy you try to use, there are some universal dos and don’ts that need to be observed by you, the educated solo Gambit player.
Do: Destroy the Primeval Envoys. They do plenty of damage, but also unlock Primeval Slayer for your team.
Don’t: Stand in the back by your spawn. Not only can you not effectively counter invasions, invaders get clear shots and your team and adds will also toss tons of fire in your direction. You have no cover and only one way to get out usually. This is generally a bad idea.
Do: Be on the lookout for the international signs for DPS. Hammer Strike, Shattering Strike, Well of Radiance and Tractor Cannon. The gains provided by these techniques are serious–trust in your team’s ability to do damage and take advantage of them.
Don’t: Try to stack debuffs. Debuffs do not stack and you likely will only get one opportunity to use yours in a Primeval phase. If you see another player going for a debuff, save yours for when their’s expires. If you see an opportunity to use your debuff and your teammates are not making moves, take the opportunity for yourself confidently.
Do: Invade if your team desperately needs the opposing Primeval to be supported and you cannot offer large amounts of sustained DPS. The Primeval phase does not always go according to plan and a good invasion can really get your team back in the game. Morale is a big part of the game and your team, being behind but seeing the opposing team having trouble, may get a boost from an effective invasion.
Don’t: Waste an invasion if you don’t have a gameplan. The cooldown for the invasion portal may be all the time the enemy team needs to set up and drop their Primeval. If you waste your invasion, you may inadvertently throw that round for your team. You won’t know until you try, of course, but use invasion experience (and the research you did on the enemy team before the game started) to determine if your invasion has a high chance of being successful.
Do: Use heavy weapons, supers and abilities on the Primeval. You’re trying to end the round, so there’s no sense holding onto something unless you’re saving it to deal with an invader or your team is unable to possibly catch up to the enemy team. If the round is within reach, spend your cash.
Don’t: Let Primeval Slayer stack too high, if it’s within your control. Average teams only need four stacks of Primeval Slayer and a proper debuff to knock the Primeval over. Going past four stacks, if you can help it, is only delaying your team and inviting the opposing to invade or destroy their Primeval in that time. Don’t plink away at the Primeval with primaries unless you are completely dry on everything. Use your resources, based on your strategy, and down the boss as fast as you can when it’s time to do damage.
The first strategy which will be used by most solo players as of this writing employs a delayed burn. The team will split up, covering different areas of the map, erase the Primeval Envoys and collapse on the first invader as soon as possible. Once the invader is down and all teammates are healthy, the Primeval Slayer stacks should be at three or four. The team will then generally pop as many buffs as possible, inflict the highest-yield debuff available, then proceed to crush the Primeval.
Splitting up for the delayed burn strategy is essential to prevent the first invader from making any serious headway. The more teammates alive when the invader is downed means a higher chance at starting DPS early. Similar to camping invader spawns (discussed earlier) but by way of choosing different spots, teammates can quickly determine where the invader is and immediately apply pressure. Aim for vertically-inclined spaces and destroy adds when possible to clear up your radar. Stationing yourself in a position where you can monitor multiple spawn points (either by eye or by radar) is incredibly effective, and even if one Guardian goes down, the others can quickly re-position and attack.
Once the invader is down and the stacks are up, teammates usually gather in a spot near or directly next to the Primeval in order to begin damage. Once DPS starts, it’s important to keep it going. If the DPS bursts and drops off without finishing the Primeval, a subsequent invasion may end up turning the tide. If you know for sure that the DPS will not be sustained enough to drop the Primeval, do what you can and then re-position to still attack the Primeval but also prepare for the next invasion. If you get tunnel vision here and let an invader slip in, things can get messy very quickly.
The instant burn strategy is incredibly effective with a full team, but becomes equally fragile when solo players try to employ it just because of lack of communication, usually. The instant burn requires confidence and specific loadouts to quickly decide a round before the opponent has a chance to retaliate. Basically, once the Primeval reveals itself, the team pops everything immediately and goes to town.
The instant burn essentially involves foregoing Primeval Slayer stacks or concerns about invasions. This strategy calls for loads and loads of sustained DPS with as many buffs on hand as possible and as quickly as possible. Debuffs are necessary. Well of Radiance is almost required. There is some flexibility to the strategy past this in terms of loadout. Heavy DPS weapons like One Thousand Voices and Thunderlord are used in conjunction with a Grace Warlock’s Empowerment and Well of Radiance, a Fire-Forged Titan’s Hammer Strike and Synthoceps, among others. This strategy requires absolute confidence because of how easily it can fall apart if the Primeval survives the full extent of your team’s ammo discharge. A glance over your team’s loadouts should give you a clue on if they’re prepared to attempt this strategy–if it doesn’t look like they are willing or able over the course of the game to use this strategy, be flexible. Don’t try to commit to something that nobody else on the team will.
The Ascendant Primeval
Hahaha. I’m not going to tell you everything, now…
When the round ends, no matter the outcome, it’s important to go over in your head what happened. What went well? What went poorly? What could you have done better? As the thoughtful solo Gambit player that you are, you should take it on yourself to play an active part in not only aiming to win, but helping make your teammates’ jobs easier. One thing you may notice in your Gambit journey is that the team’s morale can play a suspiciously large role in the team’s success.
People say that “carrying” in Gambit isn’t possible and I only agree inasmuch as simply killing adds and never dropping motes doesn’t guarantee victory. It’s really easy to berate teammates who either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t care. How can you carry players like that? The only way, in my experience, is not through good numbers, but through a healthy state of mind. If there is something your teammates are either good at or determined to do, like banking 15 motes only, the immediate response might be to try to convince them to bank earlier or to roll your eyes as they, perhaps deserving as much, get slaughtered by an invader or hostile and drop all their cash. I submit, however, that the better response is to help that player get to their goal faster so you can get to your goal faster, which is the Primeval. If your teammates have no interest in letting you pick up motes, at least help them take down enemies so they don’t have anything to die to. If your teammates cannot bring themselves to confront an invader, become that one who hunts the hunter. If your teammates are stacking motes too high, take it upon yourself to make sure the bank is always open so they can send whichever types of Blockers the bounties they’re working on call for.
“Doing that only enables these players and doesn’t teach them anything!” That’s correct. On both counts. You need to enable your teammates. There’s no hidden switch deep down that makes them play differently or on another level. They’re likely doing what they can and even if they’re not, that’s what you have to work with. Furthermore, your job here isn’t to teach players. It’s to win and to get better. Instead of looking to the environment, look inward to see what else you can offer to increase your chances of winning. As a solo player, so many things are out of your control. It’s tempting to try to be the best player on the losing team, but there’s nothing to be gained from that, if you look at the situation objectively. You can be the player with 40 banked motes with 0 dropped on the losing team, or you can be the Guardian with 4 banked motes and 13 Guardian kills on the winning team. The decision is yours to make, but I know from personal experience that while losses are educational, winning is definitely where the fun is.
Gambit is a mode best played with communicating teammates. If you cannot or will not afford yourself the luxury of an increased chance of success by playing with a team, arming yourself with this knowledge and some observations that you’ll learn to make over time will help increase your chances as a solo player. Help your teammates out, do what you can and never give up. Do that, and you’ll have fun and grab some sweet loot along the way. Trust.