Welcome back my friends for another week of the Art of War. Since the weapons of the warrior play such a key role in the game, we’ve taken the last two weeks to give an overview of the weapons and see what they can do. The first part can be found here for ranged weapons, and here for the two-handed weapons. This week we’ll be covering the weapons that provide the most variety and potential for super crazy fun time: AXE, MACE, SWORD, WARHORN, and SHIELD.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s jump right in!
Currently every new warrior in the game is going to start off with a SWORD. It’s a staple of the fantasy troupe and the weapon that most immediately comes to mind when thinking about any historical warriors in just about any society. So it’s only natural that we start with the Sword in our overview and it has some very useful skills.
The first skill combo that the Sword presents us with is Sever Artery, Gash, and Final Thrust. The first two skills in this chain are going to cause your target to Bleed, like any good sword should do. The bleeding condition is a very decent condition to have applied because it stacks in intensity, and both Sever Artery and Gash apply a stack, so you will have two stacks of bleeding rolling right away. Final Thrust is just that, a nice, hard hitting, final attack for the chain. Of course these skills won’t do you much good if you are not in range of your target – so what can we do about making sure we get into range or stay in range? If you guessed Savage Leap then give yourself a cookie!
Savage Leap is our gap closer. It basically does exactly as the skill says and leaps you forward to your target location while dealing some damage. There is one caveat to this skill that you will want to keep in mind (and I’m not sure if it’s by design or a bug), but if you are standing on a higher elevation than your target you’ll leap right over the top of them and completely miss. It seems a bit odd and hopefully it’s something ArenaNet addresses, or perhaps it is working as intended we’ll just have to learn to only use it.
Next up is Hamstring, another returning skill from the original Guild Wars. This skill causes the Crippled condition which means that your foe will be moving 50% slower for the duration of the effect. The synergy of the weapon seems to be designed around using Savage Leap to get in close, then using Hamstring to keep your enemy close while you use the other skills to bring them down. That being said the next skill on the bar seems a little out of place.
Impale. This skill reminds me of the final battle scene in the movie Robin Hood Prince of Thieves where Azeem throws his mighty blade and kills the witch. Basically we throw our sword at the opponent and it actually gets stuck in their body from which we can then Rip it out for additional damage. The nice thing about impale is that it adds a stack of bleeding (starting to see a trend). The reason in my mind that this seems out of place is because it’s a semi-ranged attack. Savage Leap is already designed to get us in close so that we don’t have to make use of ranged options, but with Impale it adds a new dimension. Start with Impale, then Savage Leap in close, Hamstring to make sure they don’t get away, and finish with Rip. If you are not using a Sword in the main hand though, then the redundancy is reduced.
As with any battle, the enemy isn’t just going to stand around and let you have your way with them; they are probably going to fight back. That’s when you want to use your next skill: Riposte. When you pop this skill you are going to block the next attack and do damage in return. This makes for a very useful defensive ability when a mob or other player is bringing out a large hit.
The burst skill for the Sword, as long as you have it in your main hand, is Flurry which causes you to swing your sword like a maniac. The benefits are that it immobilizes your foe for up to three seconds at maximum adrenaline and it causes more bleeding conditions. The addition of immobilize this makes a nice interrupt in a pinch, even at the minimum level of adrenaline.
Swords are all fine and good, but sometimes you’d rather go for something with a little more flare, perhaps little more barbaric even; something like an AXE. The axe is a very solid weapon that I would highly recommend. It has a lot of damage, some conditions, a boon, and a skill that turns you into a whirling wall of death!
The first skill for the axe is a simple combo of Chop, Double Chop, Triple Chop. It’s simple, it’s elegant, and it does the job. You will want to be careful though not to use another skill during the Triple Chop cast/animation as it will cancel the skill. What you really want though is a skill like Cyclone Axe. This skill causes Vulnerability on the target which means that they are going to be taking more damage because their armor has just been chopped with an axe! It also serves as a combo finisher, like most of the axe skills, so it really plays well with other things going on in the area.
As you are beginning to engage the enemy there is a short period of time when you are not close enough to do much of anything. In those times you’ll want to break out with Throw Axe and cause your target to be Crippled so that you can get in close and start taking them down. This is a good way of opening up a fight and gives us a bit of control on a weapon that actually has almost no control skills. You’ll also want to use this before using your burst skill, which we’ll talk about in just a moment.
Throw Axe is followed by a wonderful skill called Dual Strike. This attack will cause you to hit with both weapons, even if your main hand is not an axe, and then grants you Fury! On a human when you use this skill and gain the Fury buff, as a male, Nolan North will shout out, “Urge to kill rising!” which is good way of describing Fury, since it increases crit chance by 20%. If you are running with dual axe weapons I would suggest using this before using the burst skill to help ensure that the burst is a crit.
The last skill on the toolbar for the Axe is my personal favorite, the skill that turns us into a machine of death, and just plain looks amazing: Whirling Axe. This attack turns your Warrior into a Dervish and makes you spin around and attack all enemies in range, which is very useful for some of the AoE pulls in certain areas of the game. The other nice aspect is that you are allowed to move while the animation is ongoing so unlike Hundred Blades for the Greatsword, it’s hard to get away from this attack.
The ultimate attack for the Axe is the mighty Eviscerate, a skill that allows you to leap at your target and strike with a massive blow. The more adrenaline when the skill is used, the more damage. One thing to remember is that it is a skill shot; if your target is moving you may very well miss with this attack, so just make sure you can actually land your hit before using it!