It’s an all to common occurrence. You load into another player’s world, ready to slay them and take their souls, only to find two additional golden, glowing figures throwing lightning at you while your target spams “Welcome” from behind them. Without Estus to chug or allies to call upon, all hope can seem lost as an invader. Know that it is not. The trick to taking out the Gank Squad is not entirely based on your skills. It’s also a heavy mind game, and your psychological combat is just as important as your directed damage combat.
Here are two rules to focus on when facing down the gankers.
Rule 1: You are the aggressor
When you invade a world, you are on the attack from the get go. The host can either hide or face you, but once you find him, and it must be you that finds him, the engagement is on your terms. You can let him buff or halt his casting before it starts, watch him fight the AI or stab him as he plays PvE, etc. The instant you give him the initiative, you’re already on the back foot.
The same principle applies to multiple opponents. Always assume that you can defeat all three of them if you were to fight them one on one. With that in mind, take stock of how they position themselves upon seeing you. Ask yourself, do they shield the host, go in for the glory, work as a squad, or engage in a one sided fight club? What does their equipment consist of, and are they casting spells as soon as you enter their world? Upon approaching them, do they put a shield up or charge forward? Etcetera, etcetera.
Don’t give them an inch. Based on how you answered the questions, you should know right away which of the two/three players is the weak link, and thusly who should be your initial target. Remember always that the invasion automatically ends when the host dies, but removing one threat can make that goal easier to attain.
Once your begin, force your foes apart. Make liberal use of what mobility you have to keep them at arms length of one another. If they stick together, act as though you’ll take both on at a time, swapping targets at random and attacking whomever you please whenever you please. Play smart but be a berserker. Gankers feed on predictable opponents they can mock for easy laughs. Make them sweat even if you don’t plan on living. Their gestures will be to ease their own minds than to annoy your own.
If possible, always go for the host. The first opening you see, take it. Escape if you get surrounded, but always, always be aware of his vulnerabilities.
Rule 2: They are one mind
Gankers have one goal, as a collective: to destroy invaders without mercy so that they may mock them into submission. They are single-minded in this goal, and will use every dirty trick in the book to accomplish it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the host or one of his summons, they want to see you squirm.
Use this singular mindset against them. Think of the pair or triplet as a single entity, a collective mind linked by one purpose. Exploit this by fraying the connections between them, forcing them to reconsider their options against you and throw their ranks into chaos.
There are two main ways of accomplishing ganker confusion: aggression and opposition. Aggression is discussed above. Opposition is simple. Focus your efforts on a single enemy at a time, ignoring (save to avoid) the other one/two opponents. Be concerted in your efforts, patient and intelligent, but be consistent. Break them down one at a time.
Gankers expect you to fluster, to worry about where the next attack is coming from. If you show a stoic face and poise in the face of their tomfoolery, you might get one of them to fight for real. Kill that one first. Parry him, backstab him, catch him just after his invincibility frames run out. The remaining two will either put away the kid gloves or up their taunt game. Some of them will run. Do not stop in your aggression or opposition. Or better yet, switch between the two. Keep them guessing. You’ve broken the ranks, now turn the screw, end the game, and all the other tired combat aphorisms.
Whatever happens, don’t lose your cool. Welcome to Dark Souls.