Time is running out, my shield brothers and sisters, and the launch of Guild Wars 2 is one week closer! My sacred charge is to prepare you for your first days in Tyria. We’ve already covered utility skills in depth, discussing heals & consecrations, meditations, shouts & signets, and spirit weapons & elite skills in three consecutive weeks. Now it’s time to look at our arsenal, starting today with an inspection of our two-handed weapons. I’ll give you a basic rundown on each ability, and tell you my personal insight on how they work in battle.
Hammer — Provides powerful close-range AoE attacks and abilities.
The Hammer is one of my favorite weapons across any profession. It’s simple and brutal, delivering bone-crushing punishment while providing a respectable amount of battlefield control. If you enjoy the tactics of area denial, yet still have an offensive mindset, then the Hammer is the weapon for you.
|Symbol of Protection||NONE||Create a symbol that gives protection to you and your allies.|
|Mighty Blow||5||Damage nearby foes with a mighty ground slam.|
|Zealot’s Embrace||15||Send a wave toward your foe that immobilizes enemies in a line.|
|Banish||25||Launch your foe with a powerful smash.|
|Ring of Warding||40||Create a ring around you that foes cannot cross.|
1. The default Hammer attack Symbol of Protection is actually the third strike in a three-part chain. The first two, Hammer Swing and Hammer Bash, each hit progressively harder, culminating with the Symbol itself. The protection boon and light combo field it provides only last for a single second, making them almost completely negligible. The major downside of this ability is the swing time of each successive attack gets longer. When you’re locked in a desperate battle in WvW or sPvP, that third swing animation can feel like it takes an eternity. When it finally connects, however, it hits like a ton of bricks. If you choose your battles and manage to catch multiple opponents in its path, you will be rewarded with big numbers.
2. Mighty Blow is appropriately named, and while it doesn’t hit quite as hard as the final swing of Symbol of Protection, the fact that it is a blast finisher easily makes up for it. Instead of thinking of it as a separate ability, look at it more like the fourth swing of Symbol of Protection. Doing so almost guarantees you a combo resulting in a Retaliation aura. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Mighty Blow isn’t worth using any other way.
3. Zealot’s Embrace is where the Hammer’s control aspects begin to come into play. With a range of 1200 units and the ability to immobilize every foe it comes into contact with for 2 seconds, it is as useful as you are creative. I’ve used it to lock someone in place long enough to land another attack. I’ve used it immediately after Banish to keep someone off a control point in sPvP. My personal favorite application was against a stream of players who knocked down a keep door and ran straight into a waiting ballista. Ballista shots pierce multiple enemies, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.
4. Banish is probably the marquee Hammer ability. It looks painful, and almost nothing in the game is more satisfying than knocking the stuffing out of your enemy and sending them rolling head over heels away from you. The only two downsides to Banish are: 1. The attack animation is pretty slow, allowing for easy dodges, and 2. Enemy NPCs cannot be knocked off ledges with this ability, hitting an invisible wall instead. The first is something you can work around, but the second is extremely disappointing. Enemy players are offered no such protection, however, so swing away!
5. Ring of Warding is a little something I’ve nicknamed “Thunderdome.” Two men enter. One man leaves… usually either after I’ve killed my enemy or used Banish to excuse him from the argument. Like many control abilities, creativity is the key. With a 40-second cooldown and only a 5-second uptime, you need to pick your spots. Remember, it’s just as effective at keeping enemies OUT as it is at locking them IN. I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest.
Greatsword — Imbue allies with retaliation and control foes with leaping attacks and blinds.
Making a case for using the Greatsword is easy to do. It’s an iconic weapon, and a lot of fun to use! An offensive weapon, its mix of power, movement and debilitation make it a vicious and effective choice, especially against multiple foes.
|Wrathful Strike||NONE||A powerful strike that applies Might for each enemy you hit.|
|Symbol of Wrath||15||Pierce the ground with a mystic symbol that damages and burns foes while granting retaliation to allies.|
|Whirling Wrath||10||Spin in place and swing your greatsword while hurling powerful projectiles.|
|Leap of Faith||20||Leap at your foe. On hit, Blind nearby enemies.|
|Binding Blade||30||Throw blades at your foes, causing damage over time. Bound foes can be pulled to you. The effect ends when a foe moves out of range.|
1. The Greatsword’s default attack, Wrathful Strike, is the final blow of a three-part chain attack. As with the Hammer, the first two attacks, Strike and Vengeful Strike, are setup strikes doing progressively more damage and culminating with Wrathful Strike. The best part of this final blow is that is provides the Guardian with a stack of Might for each enemy caught in the swing. These boons only last for 3 seconds, but that’s long enough to reapply the entire chain all over again.
2. Symbol of Wrath, aside from the obvious burning and retaliation it provides, also creates a light combo field. The damage of the symbol itself isn’t that impressive against a single target, but can be effective against multiple opponents.
3. Whirling Wrath is the heavy-hitter of the Greatsword. Not only will it hit enemies 360 degrees around the Guardian, it will do so up to a range of 600 units. The attacks are considered projectiles and a whirl finisher, and as such will take advantage of any available combo fields. These Cleansing Bolts will remove conditions from nearby allies, allowing us to provide support while still being very offensive. In addition to using it after you’ve laid down a Symbol of Wrath, saving it for after Binding Blade is also a good tactic. More on that in a moment.
4. Leap of Faith is a good mid-range closer with a range of 600 units. It’s also one of the Guardian’s several methods of Blinding our enemies. Another tactical application of this ability involves using it without a target selected. This will allow you to vault forward in the direction of your choosing and can be helpful for chases, escapes or leaping over distances.
5. Binding Blade is a two-fold assault. The first ability sends out multiple spectral blades at your foes up to a range of 600 units, causing damage over time. The second attack rips these blades back to you, dragging your enemies with them. When you absolutely, positively want to have Whirling Wrath hit every skrittsucker in the room… accept no substitutes! It has a 30-second cooldown, so you’ll need to choose your moments wisely, but don’t be afraid to get creative. I’ve used this several times in sPvP to pull multiple opponents off a downed ally before they could finish them off.
Staff — Controls enemies with wards and AoE damage and supports allies with defensive spells.
A fantastic support weapon, the staff is also an effective mid-range weapon against multiple foes.
|Wave of Wrath||NONE||Send out a powerful shockwave, hitting up to five enemies.|
|Orb of Light||3||Fire a slow-moving orb of light that can be detonated to heal allies.|
|Symbol of Swiftness||15||Sear a mystic symbol into the target area, damaging foes and granting swiftness to allies.|
|Empower||20||Channel might to yourself and allies around you. When it completes heal nearby allies.|
|Line of Warding||45||Create a line in front of you that foes cannot cross.|
Spear — Used for rapid, close-range damage.
The spear is an exceptionally well-balanced weapon. Whoever designed this one definitely got it right.
|Spear of Light||NONE||Throw a spear that makes your foe vulnerable.|
|Zealot’s Flurry||6||Strike foes in front of you with a storm of jabs.|
|Brilliance||15||Blind all nearby foes.|
|Spear Wall||20||Create a spear wall in front of you that damages foes passing through it.|
|Wrathful Grasp||25||Throw a spear and pull your foe to you, burning them.|
1. Spear of Light is a very good default attack. The stacking vulnerability it provides helps you make short work of single targets. Weaving this in as a filler ability is extremely effective.
2. Zealot’s Fury is the most devastating attack the spear possesses, repeatedly jabbing your foe in face with the business end of your sharp little friend. The damage is significant, but the animation alone makes it worth using.
3. Brilliance proves that the Blind condition is just as effective below the waves. It packs decent damage and strikes multiple foes, making the Spear useful against groups.
4. Spear Wall gives you an area denial option underwater, not only dropping it in front of you, but pushing you back and away from the drop zone. The wall will last for 5 or so seconds and will damage any enemy passing through it.
5. Wrathful Grasp is the finishing touch, giving the Spear the utility of a lethal Swiss Army knife. Not only is this good for bringing you enemy close, but it applies Burning… underwater!
Trident — Magical, long range support.
Just as effective at range as the Spear is up-close. If other professions aren’t envious of our underwater arsenal, they damn well should be.
|Light of Judgment||NONE||Launch a ball of light that heals allies and damages foes|
|Purify||12||Release an orb of cleansing light that removes conditions of allies it passes through. Detonate it to burn foes and remove conditions from allies in the blast radius.|
|Pillar of Light||15||Create a pillar of light that pulses damage every second at your foe’s location.|
|Refraction||20||Create a bubble that absorbs hostile projectiles and grant Retaliation to allies.|
|Weight of Justice||25||Sink your foe with the weight of justice.|
1. Light of Judgment is multi-purpose, providing both damage and healing. What’s not to like? It may not hit or heal very hard, but the fact that it’s spammable and has a 1200 unit range makes up for it.
2. Purify is another two-fold attack similar to the Staff’s Orb of Light, only instead of healing, it removes conditions. It has a 1200-unit range, a burst radius of 300 and burns enemies for 5 seconds. Support and damage in one.
3. Pillar of Light is another area denial option, creating a damaging field that last for 5 seconds. It also has a 1200-unit range, making it far more versatile in where you place it.
4. Refraction is more than it initially seems. The bubble is fantastic against ranged projectiles. It lasts 7 seconds and only has a 20-second cooldown, so it’s generally ready when you need it. As an added bonus, the 5 seconds of Retaliation it gives you and your allies will be almost as useful against melee attacks.
5. Weight of Justice was a little weird to get used to at first, until I realized sinking an enemy is the underwater version of launching them. It’s actually even more useful for PvP since the underwater downed state requires your enemy reach the surface. Even in PvE, it’s useful for creating space and getting you out of sticky situations.
Finally, if you’d like to see some of these abilities in action, I’ve included a brief video compilation of clips from the first two beta weekends that highlight some of what we’ve talked about today.
Wow! That’s a ton of information! Next week I’ll be back with even more, covering our main hand and off-hand weaponry in the same way. In the meantime, leave your comments or stop by the Guardian forums and let me know if I missed any of the ways our two-handed weapons can be put to use. I’m always appreciative of your feedback!
Until next time…