Hello again, my shield brothers and sisters! It is good to be home. Last week, as many of you are no doubt already aware, we swapped professions for the final beta weekend. I had the chance to get some time with with Warrior, and it was like playing the opposite side of the same deadly coin. I would like to thank ArcherAvatar for stepping in for me last week to cover The Vanguard. I enjoyed his post immensely, and I highly encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. His tips concerning the use of sword/focus and scepter/shield are spot on, as are his thoughts concerning the usefulness of Jewelcrafting and Armorsmithing as potential crafting avenues. We will definitely go into more detail on crafting as it applies to the Guardian in the very near future.
Today, however, I’d like to discuss the notable changes to our chosen profession that I experienced during the final beta weekend.
There were some changes to our arsenal this weekend, and each of them are improvements in my opinion.
Scepter – We finally have a long-range option! The scepter now tops out at 1200 units with both Orb of Wrath and Smite. While the travel speed of the Orb is still fairly lethargic, it is a definite improvement.
Greatsword – While a minor change, it is worth mentioning that Whirling Wrath no longer roots you in place. You can move… sort of. It’s more like a very slight drift during the course of the channel time. While I would greatly prefer full movement speed similar to the Warrior’s Axe ability, Cyclone Axe, it’s at least a very slow, small step in the right direction.
Staff – Last, but certainly not least, the staff has had three significant ability changes.
- Martyr is gone. It has been reborn as a utility skill, which we’ll cover in a moment.
- Line of Warding has been moved to the #5 slot and the #4 slot is now home to the new Empower ability. Empower combines utility, healing and damage output, and really increases the effectiveness of the Staff as a whole by providing you and nearby allies with 6 stacks of Might and an AoE heal. The only downside is that you’re immobilized during the channel, and if you’re interrupted, you’ll only get partial stacks of Might and no heal. By channeling Empower before a pull, I was able to put those 6 stacks of Might to good use by swapping to the Greatsword and leaping into combat.
- Symbol of Swiftness now provides an 8-second Swiftness boon, making it more effective than ever.
Martyr may be gone, but it has been reborn as “Save Yourselves!”. This shout does exactly what Martyr did, drawing conditions from nearby allies and placing them on you instead. It also gives you 10 seconds of Fury, Vigor, Might, Protection, Regeneration, Swiftness, and Retaliation! It is a fantastic skill when in a group, and an even better one when solo since it works even without the presence of conditions on you or the presence of allies. For aggressive players like me, this is the perfect opening ability. And in case you’re wondering, YES! The Might you gain here does stack with the 6 stacks you get from Empower.
That’s not the only great use of this ability.
I’ve already mentioned several times that I’m a huge fan of mobility in PvE and PvP, especially our “Retreat!” shout. Well, my shield brothers and sisters, Swiftness stacks in duration. When you combine “Retreat!” and “Save Yourselves!”, you end up with TWENTY-FIVE SECONDS of increased speed! If that isn’t enough for you, keep your Staff out and when those 25 seconds tick down, you can get another 8 from Symbol of Swiftness for a total of 33 seconds! This is huge for quickly capturing control points in sPvP, running to or from objectives in WvW or just making your way quickly across Tyria in PvE.
At first, I had a minor issue with the name since it sounds so defensive at a glance. After all, I still think “Retreat!” should be renamed “Charge!” because that’s certainly how I use it. But then, it hit me… “Save Yourselves!” isn’t meant for your allies. It’s meant for your enemies.
The other major change to skills involves Tome of Courage and Tome of Wrath, both of which no longer root you in place unless you’re casting the non-spammable abilities. This makes them both much more useful!
There were several changes to our Traits in this build, centered entirely around our Virtues line.
Unscathed Contender was added as an Adept trait in the Virtues line. It increases your damage output by 10% anytime you are under the effects of Aegis. While this may be a very conditional trait for a melee-based character (since it only takes a single hit for Aegis to shatter), for back line support Guardians or those who simply like to hang back and fire away from range, this could be particularly potent.
Master of Consecrations was added as an Adept trait in the Virtues line. It gives your Consecration skills a 20% faster recharge time and makes them last 20% longer. If you love Wall of Reflection as much as I do, or if you enjoy hiding under the safety blanket that is Sanctuary, then this trait may be the right one for you!
Retaliatiatory Subconscious was added as an Adept trait in the Virtues line, and spelling aside, it’s fairly potent. It gives the Guardian 3 seconds of Retaliation whenever they’re Dazed, Stunned, Knocked Down, Knocked Back or Feared. It’s mainly a PvP trait, but at higher levels we do know that even average NPC enemies in PvE will begin to use conditions and crowd control abilities of their own. This may help level the playing field a bit.
Indomitable Courage was added as a Master trait in the Virtues line. Virtue of Courage’s passive effect triggers every 30 seconds, and its active ability also grants you 3 seconds of Stability. If you’ve played any sPvP and have been knocked down, knocked back, stunned, and feared to death, then you know how powerful Stability can be. At only 3 seconds, it’s a roll of the dice, but if you’re lucky, you may just make an enemy or two waste a crowd control ability with a long cooldown.
Absolute Resolution was added as a Master trait in the Virtues line. It makes Virtue of Resolve’s passive effect stronger, and activating Virtue of Resolve will remove three conditions. Guardians are already good counters to enemies who rely upon conditions, and with this trait, we just got a little bit better.
Permeating Wrath was added as as a Grandmaster trait in the Virtues line. Your passive Virtue of Justice no longer burns a single enemy, but instead creates a point-blank, area of effect flame burst at your location. For a melee-focused Guardian, this just makes me giddy. It’s probably not a great choice for a Scepter Guardian who tries to stay at max range, or at least it’s conditional.
Taken as a whole, these traits really enhance our unique Virtues line, and make it very tempting to allocate some points there. I’m pretty impressed with the changes overall, and I think we’re in pretty good shape as a profession. If anything else changes at launch, I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as I encounter it.
Speaking of launch, as hard is it is to believe, it’s almost upon us! In the three weeks we have available, we’re going to cover the weaponry of the Guardian, exploring each of their abilities and the traits which enhance them. We’ll also talk a bit about crafting as it pertains to Guardians in general and cover any other pre-launch tips that I or other members of the Order can think of. I’ve already started a forum post on our official Guardian forums, so feel free to stop by and contribute!
Until next time…