In PvP or Player-versus-Player, equipment and the strategic use of abilities will determine a win or a loss. With practice, impromptu reaction speed will increase and cognitive ability will improve. PvP combat may appeal to people for various reasons, whether to hunt down other players for loot, to attend a (rated) Clan War or simply for fun. With luck, player killing can be extremely profitable. However, there is also the risk of losing money, especially for beginners.
Knowledge of PvP combat can also prove useful in Player-versus-Monster encounters, such as when countering stun mechanics or bleeds.
Each combat style has its own set of certain advantages and drawbacks. A player should pick their style based on your highest stats and the style that the opponent you'll be fighting is using. The Combat triangle assures that each class has an advantage and disadvantage when matched-up. Each class has unique abilities and gear that distinguish them from each other.
- Melee has access to strong bleed abilities such as Slaughter, Dismember and Blood Tendrils. These abilities can be stacked to put a lot of pressure on opponents. This can force them to use Freedom to remove the damage-over-time. Once Freedom is on cooldown, they are vulnerable to stuns like Destroy or Stomp.
- Has a lot of reach and travel speed with Barge and Surge/Bladed Dive.
- Has access to Berserk. This ultimate ability can be used in combination with strong thresholds like Assault and Hurricane to take down opponents from almost full health. The drawback is that it leaves the melee player vulnerable due to the increased damage taken.
- Requires no ammunition as opposed to Ranged or runes for Magic.
- Rather vulnerable to attacks from long range due to the lack of weapon reach.
- Magic has access to a strong threshold combination with Wild Magic and Asphyxiate.
- Dragon Breath is a very strong basic ability. It disables protection prayers/curses, which can be essential in PvP if the opponent uses a protect/deflect prayer. It does more damage than Havoc/Smash (melee abilities prayer disable), while it does not take time to charge like Snipe (ranged ability prayer disable).
- Magic has access to debuffs, including the Guthix staff special attack which also deals considerable damage in a combo and leaves them vulnerable to further threshold abilities. Additionally, casting Tele-block and Entangle can significantly decrease the likelihood of a target escaping.
- Ranged is popular for its cheap gear. Royal dragonhide armour, Death Lotus darts and Ava's alerter are all very practical pieces of gear that have a very low replace cost.
- Shadow Tendrils has the potential to do huge damage in a single hit.
- A drawback to ranging is the fact that the prayer disabling ability Snipe has a 1.8s delay before activation.
Having the appropriate abilities on your action bars is critical in PvP. Not having the needed ability ready to use can result in death.
More than one action bar will need to be used for PvP efficiency. To enable secondary and tertiary action bars, open Game Settings and scroll down the side menu to Action Bar Settings.
The action bar mode should typically be set to Full Manual to allow full control of abilities. However, for those who are still learning to use Full Manual, Revolution mode can remain active provided you make an attempt to learn the manual keybinds. You must also ensure that Revolution does not trigger your threshold or ultimate abilities as these should be used manually and with careful timing.
Ideally, the following action bar keys should all be assigned keybinds. This allows you to respond faster and learn via muscle memory.
Tuska's Wrath may be switched out if you are comfortable using Berserk.
Ancient Curses prayer book
Some space on this bar can be saved by moving style-specific prayers onto their respective primary bars. For example, Turmoil would replace Tuska's Wrath on the Melee bars, Anguish would do the same on the Ranged bars, and so forth. Tuska's Wrath can then be added to the secondary bar, effectively freeing up two spaces.
The last two spaces can be filled with a shield and weapon switch, Overloads/potions or any other optional item.
- Protect Item is a prayer/curse that allows you to keep one additional item upon death in the Wilderness. E.g. if you are unskulled, 4 items total will be protected. If you are skulled, 1 item will be protected. This prayer should be kept on at all times whilst in the Wilderness.
- Soul Split is a curse that allows you to heal slightly based on damage dealt. Additionally, the opponent's prayer points will be drained proportionally.
- Protection prayers and Deflect Curses reduce all incoming damage of their respective styles by 50%. For example, Deflect Magic reduces all incoming magic damage by 50%. These prayers should be avoided whenever possible, only to be used if your opponent chooses to use them.
Unlike PvM, eating food does not reduce adrenaline in PvP. This makes food (such as rocktail) the primary method of healing. To complement this basic food, potions such as the Saradomin brew and Super Guthix brew can be sipped in the same game tick to allow for an increased healing speed. These potions are able to be sipped twice as often as food can be consumed.
To effectively heal using this method, the rocktail and Saradomin brew must be given comfortable keybinds that allow you to press the rocktail keybind then the brew keybind in quick succession (or simultaneously). This produces a heal of 3300 per bite.
Other methods of healing in PvP include:
- Enhanced Excalibur
- Phoenix necklace
- Unicorn stallion scroll, Healing Aura
- Resonance or Rejuvenate with a shield equipped
|Enhanced Excalibur||4% of max life points 5 times over a period of 20 seconds, resulting in a total of 20% of max life points healed. With completion of the Seers' Village Elite Tasks, the heal duration is doubled, resulting in a total heal of 40% of max life points.|
|Phoenix necklace||Consumable neck slot item that heals the wearer for 30% of maximum life points if health drops below 20%.|
|Healing aura scroll||Unicorn stallion familiar scroll. Restores 10% of the player's maximum life points.|
|Rejuvenate||Consumes 100% adrenaline, healing the player by 40% of their maximum life points over a period of 10 seconds. A shield must be equipped throughout the ability. This method is only feasible in an emergency or when using a shield a primary off-hand.|
|Resonance||Blocks all damage from the next hitplat against you in the next 6 seconds. Instead, heals you by 50% of the damage + (0.5 x shield level)%. For example, using Resonance with a level 90 shield will heal you for 95% of the hit.|
In the middle of a fight, always remain calm and maintain a good defensive rotation. The ideal order is:
This rotation should typically be started when your opponent is about to reach 40% adrenaline. You must also strictly maintain this rotation throughout the fight, whilst keeping your health up and trying to defeat your opponent simultaneously.
Although Debilitate does not break free nor prevent a stun, it reduces incoming damage by 50%, mitigating the effect of a high damage combo such as Wild Magic → Asphyxiate.
Freedom should only be used when it is really needed. If your opponent does not stun you (nor apply a tripled Slaughter, etc.), you should simply Anticipate again and start this rotation over. Take care not to waste Freedom while your Debilitate is active.
In the event of an emergency, such as when your Debilitate misses and your Freedom is still on cooldown, equipping a shield to use Reflect can be the difference between life and death.
While shield abilities are crucial to tanking in multi-way combat zones, using them continuously is regarded as taboo in single-way combat. The reason for this is that a very experienced player with good armour and a shield can negate almost all damage that an opponent can inflict on them, dragging the fight out and expending time and resources. This is called 'shield-camping' and should be avoided in PvP.
Adrenaline is gained by using basic abilities, and expended by the stronger threshold and ultimate abilities. Each basic ability you use will give you +8% adrenaline. Each threshold will consume 15% adrenaline. An ultimate ability will use all 100% adrenaline. On top of this, Super Guthix rest potions and Adrenaline potions can increase your total adrenaline by 15% and 25% respectively.
Because of the technicality of these numbers, there are certain adrenaline thresholds that must be noted. For example, when your opponent reaches 40% adrenaline, they are able to sip an Adrenaline potion which brings it to 65%. From 65%, they are then able to use two threshold abilities in quick succession. This could catch you off guard and potentially end the fight fast.
These are the main adrenaline thresholds:
|0-5%||None||Adrenaline flask (6) or Super adrenaline potion (4) and Limitless sigil||If the opponent is wearing a Limitless sigil, they are practically able to sip an Adrenaline potion to reach 30% right away. From there, activating the sigil will allow them to use two threshold abilities immediately. However, the sigil cannot be used in the Wilderness, thus rendering this method useless in dangerous PvP.|
|20%||Medium||Super adrenaline potion (4)||Sipping a Super adrenaline potion from here allows for one immediate threshold. This is sometimes done to execute a surprise Asphyxiate stun, causing you to waste Freedom and thus break the anti-stun rotation.|
|25%||Medium||Adrenaline flask (6)||Same as above, sipping an Adrenaline potion from here allows for one immediate threshold. This is sometimes done to execute a surprise Asphyxiate stun, causing you to waste Freedom and thus break the anti-stun rotation. As players don't usually use Super adrenaline potions, this method is much more common.|
|35%||Low||Super Guthix brew flask (6)||Sipping a Guthix rest/brew potion from here allows for one immediate threshold. As above, this is sometimes done to execute a surprise Asphyxiate stun, causing you to waste Freedom and thus break the anti-stun rotation. This alternative is primarily used by players who do not have the Herblore level requirement to make Adrenaline potions.|
|35%||Medium-high||Super adrenaline potion (4)||Sipping a Super adrenaline potion increases adrenaline by 30%. This brings it to 65%, allowing for two immediate thresholds. This method is both unpredictable and unreliable, making it a lesser used option.|
|40%||High||Adrenaline flask (6)||Sipping an Adrenaline potion from here will allow two thresholds. This is the most common point at which a PKer will execute a combo attack. Anticipation should be used just before your opponent has reached this point.|
Movement and Stalling
Movement is fundamental in PvP, whether for defensive or offensive purposes. It can give you a huge advantage against a non-moving opponent.
Reasons to move include:
- To cancel your opponent's channelled ability (such as Asphyxiate, Assault, Destroy)
- To cause your opponent to move as well, thus increasing damage output from Combust, Frag shot and Slaughter.
- To "stall" an ability.
A channelled ability is one that deals damage over time without allowing you to use another ability simultaneously. Threshold channelled abilities tend to be quite powerful, especially for melee dual wield and mage. The following abilities are channelled abilities:
- Concentrated Blast
- Smoke Tendrils
- Rapid Fire
To counter any of these abilities, you simply need to move out of range or behind an obstacle. You can also choose to simply stun them to interrupt the channelling, thus mitigating damage taken.
(Bold text denotes the abilities that you are strongly recommended to cancel via movement.)
Bleeds often seem like insignificant abilities in PvP but many players overlook the effect of movement on bleed damage. Combust, Fragmentation shot and Slaughter all increase in damage significantly if the target moves.
|Fragmentation shot||Double damage|
To move your target and increase bleed damage, you can do any of the following:
- Move out of attack range. Simply be on the outskirt of your opponent's attack range during the fight. This way, taking a single step out of range is enough to move them.
- Move behind an obstacle. Buildings, trees, etc.
- Move beneath the opponent. This causes them to move out to continue attacking you.
Stalling is the act of delaying an ability so that it is triggered at the same time as the following ability. This creates a burst of damage that increases the likelihood of defeating your opponent, as compared to two separate hits.
Stalling is performed by activating the first ability while out of range, causing the ability to go on cooldown without having hit the target yet. At this point, the ability can be triggered at any time simply by left-click attacking your opponent. If the ability is stalled sufficiently, the global cooldown timer will have elapsed, allowing you to use another ability in the same instant as the stalled one.
Not all abilities can be stalled, however. Channelled abilities will not activate nor go on cooldown if you attempt to use one while out of range of your target.
PvP is the only combat encounter in Runescape where your opponent has access to unlimited healing. This calls for a different way of dealing damage. Rather than a slow and steady damage output, you want to generate an explosive burst of damage to defeat your opponent fast, without waiting for them to run out of food first.
These bursts can be achieved by using certain combinations of abilities in sequence. Each combat class has a few possible combo attacks:
- Asphyxiate → Wild Magic (or vice versa): 716.2% average damage over 10 game ticks or 547% average damage over 7 game ticks (if cutting off the Asphyxiate, since the stun only applies for 3.6s).
- Shadow Tendrils → Tight Bindings → Snap shot: 659.7% average damage over 9 game ticks (with a stun).
- Berserk → Hurricane: 530% average damage over 3 game ticks.
- Detonate (charged) → Wild Magic: 490% average damage in 1 game tick.
- Assault → Destroy: 901.6% average damage over 12 game ticks or 676.2% average damage over 8 game ticks (cutting off each after 4 ticks).
These are not the only combination abilities that exist. More complex ones exist, such as the inclusion of the Reprisal ability.
These items and abilities can be used to give you an advantage in PvP combat:
|Natural Instinct||Consumes 100% adrenaline and drains all of your opponent's adrenaline, giving it to you. Best used during the first Anticipation after your opponent has used up Freedom. This means that they won't have enough adrenaline for Debilitate and their Freedom will still be on cooldown.|
|Numbing root||Clears all bleeds. Can only be used every 45 seconds, best used to clear a Slaughter or a Combust/Fragmentation Shot. Dismember and Corruption abilities can also be cleared but are generally less potent, so you should just eat food for them.|
|Gorajian mushroom||Heals 10% maximum health and reduces all PvP damage by 15% for 10 seconds. Consume if anti-stun defensives are on cooldown.|
|Forge regent familiar with Inferno scroll||Disarms the opponent's weapon or shield if they have empty inventory spaces.|
|Teleport Block||Casting this spell on your opponent will render them unable to teleport for the next 5 minutes. This effect can be cleared by running out of the Wilderness. If cast on a player with Deflect Magic enabled, the tele-block effect will only last 2.5 minutes. Additionally, if a player under the effect of tele-block uses Immortality and is killed and revived by the ability, the tele-block will be cleared and they will be able to teleport again.|
|Entangle||Casting this spell on your opponent will bind them for 12 seconds. Note that this does not mean they are stunned, merely unable to move. They can still attack.|
|Guthix staff switch for the Claws of Guthix special attack||Decreases the target's defence and increases hitchance against them. This can be used as long as you have 25% adrenaline, even if you are not above 50%. Can be used either before a combo to increase combo damage or after a combo when adrenaline has fallen below 50%.|
|Reprisal||Threshold ability that accumulates charge based on damage you receive over a period of 6 seconds. The damage is then reflected back at your opponent. This ability has diminishing returns in PvP combat but is still very good for racking up a burst of high damage.|
|Praesul curses||An upgrade from the level 95 curses (Turmoil/Anguish/Torment). As it is a curse, it does not increase your risk in the Wilderness, but it does increase your damage significantly.|
|Smite||Similarly to Soul Split, this prayer drains the opponent's prayer points. However, Smite drains much faster than Soul Split, causing many high levels to opt to the normal prayer book just for Smite.|
|Cursed energy||Having this in your inventory allows players of all combat levels to attack you. Once they have attacked you, you are then free to retaliate. This can widen the level range of players you can fight. However, while this is in your inventory, you are unable to teleport.|
|Demonic skull||Having this equipped or in your inventory allows players of all combat levels to attack you. Once they have attacked you, you are then free to retaliate. Similar to cursed energy, this can widen the level range of players you can fight. Having this worn or in inventory will not prevent you from teleporting. However, demonic skulls cost 550,000 gold to purchase from the Mage of Zamorak so are quite costly for their purpose.|
|Mud pie||These items do not stack and are a hassle to equip and throw individually. However, each pie drains your opponent's run energy by 50% when thrown. This makes for an effective way of slowing down an escaping victim.|
|Superior Morrigan's throwing axe or Morrigan's throwing axe special attacks||Activating the special attack "Hamstring" will cause your opponent's run energy drain to be quadripled. This is most effective when used on a fleeing target.|
|Fury shark||When consumed in PvP combat, heals 2475 health and activates an item protection effect that lasts 1 minute. This stacks with the Protect Item prayer/curse, allowing for 2 total items protected when skulled in the Wilderness. The main limitation of using fury sharks is that they only last a minute per shark. Should the effect expire, the extra item will once again be lost on death.|
This gear is costly and should only be used when:
- High risk fighting
- Duelling (Public duel or Duel Arena)
- White Portal fighting
- Playing Castle Wars or Soul Wars
These setups are very effective per cost and can generally be used for:
- Fighting in the Wilderness
- Fighting in Red Portal
While within the Wilderness, you should always have an escape plan that you can carry out in the event of an emergency. Certain teleport restrictions and the Teleport Block spell can make escaping nearly impossible sometimes.
If venturing up to level 30 Wilderness, the following teleports will allow for teleportation:
- Ring of wealth (4)
- Amulet of glory (4)
- Wilderness sword 4
- Combat bracelet (4)
- Saradominist, Zamorakian, Bandosian, and Armadylean tokens (10 times a day).
If only venturing up to level 20 Wilderness, the ideal method of emergency teleportation is a Teleport to house tablet. By going into Game Settings → Player Owned House Settings, the teleport arrival location can be set to "House". This means that you will teleport directly into your player-owned house upon breaking the tele-tab. This ensures that if you happen to die after teleporting (such as to a delayed hitsplat or weapon poison), you will simply respawn outside your POH with all items intact.
When escaping on foot, it is important to know the difference between a stun and a bind. Binds prevent movement but do not prevent abilities. This means that while bound, you are still able to use abilities like Surge/Escape, Barge and Bladed Dive.
A stun, however, does not allow you to use any abilities (with the exception of Freedom, which clears the stun).
|Anticipation||Provides 10 seconds of immunity against stuns, as well as 10% damage reduction. This ability cannot be used while stunned.|
|Freedom||Clears all stuns and bleeds and furthermore provides 6 seconds of immunity against stuns and binds. Most potent defensive ability in PvP combat that does not require a shield.|
|Barge||Requires a target and a melee weapon equipped. Breaks free from binds, bringing you adjacent to your target. If the Barge hits, a bind will also be inflicted on your target for 6.6 seconds.|
|Surge||Teleports you forward. Works even when bound but does not work when stunned.|
|Bladed Dive||Requires dual wield melee weapons equipped. Allows you to travel up to a maximum of 10 game squares in any direction you choose that isn't blocked by an obstacle. Works when bound but not when stunned.|
Although most of the high level PvM perks work just fine, certain other perks can be extremely useful in a player vs player situation. A few of the most notable are:
|Mobile||Halves the cooldown time of Surge, Escape, Barge and Bladed Dive, meaning you can use them twice as often. Indispensable perk for chasing a fleeing player.|
|Clear Headed||Increases the duration of Anticipation by 1.2 seconds per rank. Removes the 10% damage reduction. Trade-off is very worthwhile if the extended Anticipation causes your opponent to waste their stun abilities.|
|Impatient||There is a 9% chance per rank that a basic ability will generate 3% additional adrenaline. This perk could potentially tip your adrenaline from 24% (3 basic abilities) to 27%, allowing you to sip an adrenaline potion and immediately use a threshold.|
These perks can be added to either armour or weapon gizmos, making them quite versatile.