Welcome back, Warriors, for another week of the Art of War! Last week we took a look at the ranged weapons and what they can do but you don’t always want to rely on those ranged options. Sometimes you want to get in close and punch a dragon in the face! This week, we will take a look at the two-handed options, the GREATSWORD and the HAMMER.
When we consider these two weapons there is an important choice that needs to be made: do I want to be mobile, or do I want to control? Both weapons have their strengths and in some ways the issue comes down to play style choice, or what you’re going to do with your utility skills. Let’s begin by taking a look at the Greatsword skills and examine what exactly we can do with that huge piece of sharpened steel.
Just as with the rest of the warrior weapons, we start off with the most basic of auto attacks, Greatsword Swing. This attack is a nice, bread-n-butter, sort of attack that you’ll want to always be using if nothing else is going on. There is a benefit to this attack that we need to consider – it adds Vulnerability with each hit. During the last beta weekend event we had a chance to run the Ascalon Catacombs and stacking Vulnerability on mobs makes things a lot easier. I’m not sure yet if there is a hard cap on the number of stacks this condition can reach, but we had 20+ at times and it does help.
Greatsword Swing is followed up by Greatsword Slice which isn’t very fancy, but it does give you another stack of Vulnerability. Are we starting to see a pattern? These two attacks are really there to set up for the finisher, Brutal Strike. No question about it, this hits harder than the previous strikes, and since there should be at minimum two stacks of Vulnerability, it should hit for that much more. Overall this is a nice combo to utilize as you wait for other things to come off cooldown.
The number two skill is a throwback to the days of the original Guild Wars, when Warriors would flail about and generally be laughed at when using this skill as it was originally pathetically weak. It’s been buffed some in the original game, but in Guild Wars 2, it really shines! We’re talking of course about Hundred Blades. This is an amazing skill now and we’ve seen it used to pretty good effect in a lot of videos so far. Hundred Blades makes you swing your sword around like a maniac, hitting everything in your path as long as you don’t move. Yes, you read that right, you can’t move while Hundred Blades is active or you will cancel the remaining duration of the attack. This helps bring a little bit of balance to the skill by allowing players to dodge out of the attack. What many people have done so far during the beta is use this with skills like Bull’s Charge and Throw Bolas so that the target stays put while you bring the pain. It’s an effective strategy for now and something to consider when building your character to use a Greatsword.
With movement being the name of the game for the Greatsword, the next skill does just that and makes you spin like crazy: Whirlwind Attack. With this attack, you have to aim which direction you want to travel and then press the button again to lock it in and start the attack (unless you have the quick AoE option selected, then you’ll travel the direction of your mouse). This is great for either getting in range, getting some space, or just cleaving your way through a group of mobs. What I like to do is open with this when another skill is on cooldown so that I got into range and then could proceed from there. At first it can be a little tricky to get the hang of as you lose complete control of your character until the animation is finished, but that’s a minor set back for such a fun skill.
Now imagine this: you’re a vile, undead asura and all you want to do is go about wrecking havoc on this poor little village, when suddenly a Greatsword comes flying out of nowhere and you find yourself Crippled. What just happened? Well you, my little undead friend, have just been hit with Bladetrail. A completely ridiculous skill, but so much fun as it will cripple anything in its path – both on the initial throw and on the return trip. Plus, it acts as a projectile finisher so it can take advantage of anything else that may be going on on the battlefield. This is the only skill that grants the Cripple effect on the Greatsword, so make liberal use of this skill when you have enemies that like to move a lot, or other players that are trying to get away from your cleaver of death!
The final skill for this epic weapon is Rush, which is essentially a gap closer. Use this skill to open with and get in close with your enemy, or if the foe is trying to flee, use it then to make sure they don’t get away. At the moment it does just this one thing and it does it well.
As for a burst skill, we have Arcing Slice, which is an interesting skill. What this does it attack the target and give you 5 stacks of Might. Something that is missing from both of these weapons is a way of giving ourselves any kind of boon. There is no regeneration, no protection, nothing. This is the only skill that will help make you more powerful, and it’s a good one to use. Arcing Slice might not seem like a very strong skill, but the fact that it grants Might means it makes all of our other attacks that much stronger. Hit this to gain Might then Throw Bolas to make sure the target isn’t moving, and pop Hundred Blades. Watch as the numbers fly!
Overall the Greatsword feels really good in our hands and I don’t foresee too much being changed with it at this point in the game’s development. Lots of movement and the ability to get around the battlefield make the Greatsword, well, great. Yet being able to move around may not be what you have in mind, or what the situation calls for, so maybe you need to be able to control what your opponent can do. Bring on HAMMER-time!
When you put that massive chunk of steel in your hands, you’re going to feel like Thor because your enemy is going to have a very bad day. The opening combo skill is very simple, Hammer Swing – hey, look, you swung your hammer. Then comes Hammer Bash – hey look, you swung your hammer again! Finally you Hulk out and Hammer Smash. Yep, that’s right, you swung your hammer, then you swung it again, and again. Thank you Colin! All kidding aside though, this is the most basic of all the hammer skills, but the animations are superb! When you Hammer Smash at the end of the chain the ground actually explodes around you from the force of your blows. Even though there is no frills to this chain, it’s still epic.
Let’s be honest though, you didn’t pick up a Hammer for it’s #1 attack skill, you picked it up for skills like this one – Fierce Blow. With this attack you cause the Weakness condition on your enemy, which gives us two very useful additions. First this causes the enemy to not regenerate Endurance as fast. In PvP this is especially useful so that your foe can’t use their dodge as much, and as we know, dodge is a hugely useful skill for every class. The second thing that Weakness does is cause your target to … fumble … huh? This one I had to look up as it doesn’t immediately make sense. Fumble gives a chance for your blow to be a glancing blow, which is 50% of the total damage. So instead of hitting for say 1000, you would only hit for 500. This makes Weakness a pretty powerful condition to apply in all areas of the game as it helps with damage mitigation.
Next on the Hammer list of pain is Hammer Shock – which applies the Cripple condition. Let’s review shall we; with Fierce Blow we apply Weakness, which makes the enemy not be able to dodge as much. Check. With Hammer Shock we now apply Cripple so that you can’t move as fast. Yea, getting these hits in place means that pesky Mesmer isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s a really nice combo, but there are even more options providing us control, such as the next skill: Staggering Blow.
Since the time before the elder dragons, punting your enemy has been a tradition among us Warriors. This is the time that we get to practice our swing and go for the long drive as we Knockback the enemy. Staggering Blow has the benefit too of being a true interrupt as, when we hit that Elementalist trying to bring down fire on our heads, we stop whatever it was they were doing as they waved their arms about. Keep your eyes on the battlefield for opportunities to use this skill and bring the fear of the Hammer to your foes wherever they may be.
Finally we have that most mighty of skills, the creme-de-la-creme, Backbreaker! When you really don’t want your enemy going anywhere, you are going to use Backbreaker because it grants your foe a two-second Knockdown. For the duration of the effect, you can do whatever you want with your enemy and if you time it right, this gives you another form of interrupt. So we have two interrupts and two conditions which give us a metric ton of control.
When it comes to the burst skill of the Hammer, we get Earthshaker.This is our one quasi-mobility ability, as it causes us to leap to the targeted location and then slam the ground, causing a stun. The length of the stun depends on the amount of adrenaline that is built up. One second for level one and two seconds for level three. It’s a nice way of starting combat as it gets you into range and makes sure that level 80 deer won’t be going anywhere. We can then continue to build up adrenaline to move onto the next fight and start the process over again. With the stun component it does give us some additional utility in the middle of battle, should we need an emergency interrupt.
So there we have it folks! Those are the two-handed weapons that we currently have available and I must say, it’s a good time to be a Warrior. Whether you choose the Greatsword and cleave everything in twain, or go with the Hammer so that you can smash it like a boss (green-colored armor is not required), you will have a lot of very valuable options to explore. Til next week, fight the good fight!