The final beta weekend is almost upon us, my Shield Brothers & Sisters, and now that we’ve covered our utility skills in depth, I thought you might like to see some of them in action!
During the second stress test, I spent a considerable amount of time playing in hot-join structured PvP, trying out various builds. Today, I am going to share three different builds and three different videos with you. I’ll point out what I enjoyed about each one, as well as their drawbacks. I’ll cover some of the high points of my own personal playstyle, and I’ll also mention where I have areas of opportunity to grow. Finally, I’m going to invite you to share your comments, stories and videos on our forums so that the Guardian community as a whole can benefit from your experiences.
I’ve included links to the builds and to the item sets I used in the video notes. I’ll also discuss them in the article below so that you have all the details. The links all point to a site called GW2Skills.net, a Russian-based build editor with a very cool interface.
Let’s get started!
THE SUPPORT BUILD
The first build I tried out ended up being my least favorite. I decided to play a completely support-focused Guardian, and while it may sound contradictory that I found a support build to be lacking for what is often cited as the premier support profession, it just wasn’t fun for me personally. We’ll get to why in just a minute, but first, let’s look at the build.
Here is what I called my Grove Support Build, named for the Rune set that I centered my build upon.
For those of you who haven’t experienced PvP yet, there are vendors in The Mists which you can access almost immediately after starting out on your adventures. The Mists is a centralized PvP hub where you can build out your max level PvP character and equip him or her with any of the weapons and armor available to your profession. In addition to the baseline weapons and armor, these vendors also sell runes that you can attach to them to provide you with special weapon abilities and armor set bonuses.
Rune of the Grove is one such rune set. It provides the following bonuses per piece:
- +25 healing
- +15% protection duration
- +50 healing
- 5% chance to gain protection for 10s when hit. (cooldown 30s)
- +90 healing
- 5% chance to root your target on hit. (cooldown: 60s)
I chose this rune for the +healing as well as the +protection duration. Protection reduces all damage taken by 33%, and is a key defensive boon that Guardians can provide in several ways.
My weapons of choice were the sword/shield and scepter/shield, which gave me both a melee and ranged option while giving me a bit of control through the sword’s blind and the scepter’s immobilize. The mace may have been a better choice for flat out healing and support, but it works best in groups which can benefit from the healing it’s attack chain provides.
That I love Wall of Reflection is probably no surprise to readers who follow my column. As I mentioned in my article about Consecrations, it is my absolute favorite. It’s extremely versatile, and I used it in every build we’ll discuss today. Purging Flames is another Consecration I’m fond of, normally for its offensive use of applying AoE Burning to enemies. In the Grove build, however, I selected it for its AoE condition removal. Finally, the “Retreat!” ability is another of my mainstays, a favorite that I discussed at length in my article dealing with Shouts. It also plays a key role in every build I played during the stress test.
My traits were mainly focused in the Valor and Honor lines, emphasizing Toughness, Healing and Vitality. Here is a summary of the traits I picked up, presented in a screen grab from GW2Skills.net. I really like that their site has this mouseover summary function.
As you can see, I focused a great deal of attention on picking up traits which benefited my nearby allies. My dodge rolls healed them, they gained a passive +90 Toughness just being in my vicinity, and they also gained the passive regenerative effect of my Virtue of Resolve.
The other upside to this build was healing myself for a small amount every time I provided a boon to my allies. In theory this should have happened quite often as I used the shield to give them protection, or “Retreat!” to give them Aegis. The fact that any Aegis I provided would heal upon removal was an added benefit that seemed to offer a great deal of synergy, allowing me to heal passively through active support.
All of this sounds great… right up to the point where you’re the only one guarding a captured point and there’s no one around to support or heal but yourself. This happened quite often, probably because it is beta and probably because it is hot join. My choices seemed to always be to either roll with the zerg and fight mid-field, essentially ignoring the importance of point defense, or make a stand at a point, essentially wasting all of those group-oriented traits.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a fine way to build out a supportive Guardian. I just think it is better suited to WvW or dungeons where you’ll find other players in close proximity to support on a regular basis. In Structured PvP, my initial impression is that it is much better to take an every man for himself approach. In hot join, you’ll be in an 8v8 scenario, but it’s the Wild West. There is very little communication and coordination to speak of. In tournament play, you’re in a 5v5 scenario. There are 3 capture points and 5 players. The simple math tells you that you’re going to be solo a fair amount of the time. Keep that in mind when choosing your build, weapons and skills.
THE OFFENSIVE BUILDS
As I’ve stated before, I really enjoy playing an aggressive Guardian. I absolutely believe the best defense is a strong offense, and it comes through in my playstyle. Because of the Guardian’s built-in hardiness, it is almost impossible to have a “Glass Cannon” build, even if you focus extensively on offensive weapons, runes and skills.
The first such build I tried was one I called my Flame Legion Build, and it focused on BURNING and power.
Rune of the Flame Legion provides the following set bonuses:
- +25 power
- +15% burning duration
- +50 power
- 5% chance to cause burning for 1s when hit. (cooldown: 5s)
- +90 power
- +100 power while health is above 90%.
The only major drawback I see looking back is that the greatsword, while amazing, isn’t that great for sPvP. It’s an offensive AoE weapon, and like I mentioned earlier, if you’re playing the objectives instead of rolling with the pack, you’re more likely to find yourself in 1v1 or 1v2 scenarios more than group versus group where the greatsword excels. It also gains zero benefit from the Right Handed Strength trait, which boosts the critical strike chance of all one-handed weapons by 15%. A much better choice would have been to stick with the scepter/shield or scepter/focus. The focus even has a blinding ability, so I still would have had a blind on each weapon set.
All in all this build fits MUCH better with my play style. I could solo the boss NPCs in Forest fairly quickly and easily, and as you’ll see in the video, Wall of Reflection is a pretty solid anti-sniping tool which can be used to protect your kills. As I end the video with right before it cuts off prematurely, sniping those bosses is extremely effective in Forest matches. I even manage to pull it off myself against 2-3 enemies before dying.
As much as I enjoyed the previous offensive build, I felt I could get more out of it with a few changes.
That is where my Revised Flame Legion build came into play.
I stay with the Flame Legion set. I keep the greatsword and sword/shield. I even keep the same utility skills (Wall of Reflection, Hammer of Wisdom & “Retreat!”).
What changes are the traits I focus on.
I no longer gain Retaliation when activating a Virtue, Justice goes back to burning on every 5th attack, and Hammer of Wisdom loses its +50% duration.
What I gain, however, is Aegis burning all nearby enemies anytime it is removed. This includes the Aegis I provide to nearby allies through activating Virtue of Courage or via “Retreat!”. This turns two supportive abilities into offensive ones, and goes hand in hand with the extra 25% damage I gain against burning enemies via traits and runes. I also pick up the Zealous Blade trait, which makes greatsword attacks heal me for a small amount.
I’m still not 100% sold on if the greatsword is an optimal sPvP weapon, but so long as you’re using it to carve people in half, getting some health back in the process can’t hurt. Everything else stays the same as it did with my first Flame Legion build, and I was very happy with the results!
As an added bonus, I also hit Glory Rank 3 during this video, picking up some unexpected loot in the process.
The one major flaw I see looking back with all of these builds is the fact that I almost completely ignore my Elite skills. Tome of Courage is incredible for holding a point until help arrives or my heal comes off cooldown, and it is exceptional at healing yourself and nearby allies. I have no excuse for not using it other than sheer bloodlust and tunnel vision. By the time I think to pop it, I’m usually almost dead.
That said, if you take the time to watch these videos, you can see examples of:
- “Retreat!” getting me and my team to capture points faster, shaving off precious seconds.
- Hammer of Wisdom saving me repeatedly while in a downed state, knocking back the enemies who were trying to finish me off and allowing me time to revive.
- The shield ability Shield of Absorption being used to save an ally who is about to be killed by knocking back multiple enemies off the clocktower capture point.
- Wall of Reflection being used to: Reflect damage and conditions back at enemies, spot Mesmer clones without changing targets, prevent boss sniping in Forest matches
- A Guardian who ignores mid-field fighting to focus on capturing objectives.
- A columnist who mistakenly says he won a match when he actually lost it just because he was excited to win the Top Player award. (Red team can still suck it!)
And that’s all for this week!
I’d love to get your feedback and see your PvP builds and videos! You can post them over on our Guardian forums!
Next week I’ll be back to highlight any changes to Guardians in the final beta weekend, and I’ll also be a guest writer for our fantastic Warrior column, The Art of War. Regardless of profession, I’ll be doing a ton more PvP, and I highly encourage you to get out there and do the same!
Until next time…