Hello again, my shield brothers and sisters! Last week we went over the new skill tier system for our utility and elite skills, and now the time has come to look at individual skills in depth.
I’ve taken the liberty of recording a video of each skill group: Heals, Consecrations, Meditations, Shouts, Signets, Spirit Weapons, and Elite Skills, so that you can familiarize yourself with how the abilities look on the battlefield. I’ll list the skills from each category, describe their functions and give insight into their effectiveness in battle. At the end of each category, I’ll pick my personal favorite from the group for my particular play style.
This is vital information for players of other professions as well. It may educate our enemies on which abilities to avoid, but it will also prepare our allies to take advantage of the many benefits we bring to a fight. I apologize in advance for the framerates in some of the videos. I shot them while inside the Mists during the Friday afternoon of the last beta weekend, and WvW was a bit unstable for me at the time. Still, I hope you’ll find them valuable.
Let’s begin with the first non-weapon skill category you have access to.
Shelter - Our default healing ability, and the only skill we ever receive for free. Shelter will block all attacks during its 2-second cast time, but it roots you in place in the process. Since it is a Blocking ability, it will work in conjunction with talents like Might of the Protector and Defender’s Flame. While these traits are better than nothing, I find them a bit lacking. The Might boon from the first trait has its effective duration cut by the 2 second cast time of Shelter, and the burn chance of the second trait is only 20% per block. If it had a 100% burn chance, I’d find Shelter more tempting, despite it having the longest cooldown of our healing abilities at 45 seconds.
Signet of Resolve - Signet of Resolve only has a 30-second cooldown, while healing for a similar amount as Shelter. It also removes a condition every 10 seconds as a passive ability. This passive ability can also be provided by the Purity trait in our Valor line, and I was unable to confirm if these two abilities stacked or not. (Dueling would have helped with this, but alas.) Since it is a signet, it benefits from the following traits in the Radiance line: Inscribed Removal and Signet Mastery. Technically, it should benefit from Perfect Inscriptions as well, but I wasn’t able to determine any boost to the passive ability during the last beta weekend, so I can’t verify it.
Healing Breeze - Like Signet of Resolve, Healing Breeze only has a 30-second cooldown. It’s the only one of the three options that can heal allies as well. Healing Breeze has a 3-second cast time, and will heal allies for half of what it heals the Guardian for. It is also important to note that this heal will not work underwater.
Since each of these are considered healing skills (as opposed to utility or weapon skills which can heal), they each benefit from the Healer’s Retribution trait in the Radiance line.
Centurion’s Pick : Signet of Resolve
While largely a matter of personal preference, I found myself selecting Signet of Resolve the majority of the time. It shares the lowest cooldown of your healing options, while having the ability to have the absolute lowest with the Signet Mastery trait. The passive condition removal is useful, too. Shelter’s cooldown is just too long, and Healing Breeze doesn’t synergize with any traits.
Consecrations are unique to the Guardian, providing effects that can be placed on the ground to aid allies and harm enemies.
Sanctuary - Creates a bubble of protection that surrounds the Guardian, preventing enemies from entering, deflecting projectiles and providing healing to allies who stand inside of it. A useful ability, but one that currently has some serious drawbacks. First off, it doesn’t move with the Guardian, but rather stays in a fixed area. To gain the benefit of the protection and healing it provides, you’ll have to root yourself in place for the duration. Standing still may actually offset the usefulness of the ability entirely unless you’re capturing or defending a point in structured PvP or in another similar situation. There is a potential upside to Sanctuary’s fixed position for the tactical player, but it means forfeiting the ability’s designed advantage. Similar to the ward abilities of our Staff and Hammer, Sanctuary can be used as a short-term way to block a chokepoint. You’ll only get 10 seconds of makeshift barricade, but that might be all you need. Another major drawback to the ability is how easily area of effect abilities penetrate it, as do many other hazards such as siege weaponry (arrow carts, ballistas, cannons, oil), pets, minions and some NPCs. Take that into consideration when choosing it, especially since it has a two-minute cooldown.
Wall of Reflection - You owe it to yourself to try this skill. Wall of Reflection summons a spectral wall of force which reflects enemy projectiles, damaging enemies with their own weaponry. I love this ability. In the latest beta weekend, it was even used to bounce trebuchet shots back to their source! The number of ways you can exploit this ability to your advantage are only limited by how devious you are. My favorite tactic is dropping it in front of a keep door that is under siege in WvW. Wall of Reflection is also considered a Light field, so the right finisher can give nearby allies Retaliation as well. Our Leap of Faith ability with the Greatsword works nicely. As it only has a 40-second cooldown, Wall of Reflection is an extremely potent consecration.
Purging Flames - If Elvis were alive to play a Guardian, he’d choose this ring of fire which BURNS enemies and removes conditions from allies. Since it applies burning, it’s fantastic for builds that employ the Fiery Wrath trait from the Zeal line. Area of Effect condition removal is very powerful as well. It also provides a Fire field for combo finishers, which can give fiery projectiles or even a fire shield! Offensive and supportive at the same time, Purging Flames is another strong contender in the consecrations skill group. The 40-second cooldown only enhances it further.
Hallowed Ground - Creates an area of effect zone of stability, making everyone inside immune to Stun, Launch, Knockdown, Push, Pull, Sink, Float, Fear and Daze for up to 10 seconds. Similar to Purging Flames, it also provides a Fire field for combos. Stability is a clutch boon for high end PvP and PvE, and with proper timing can mean the difference between life and death for you and and your allies.
All Consecrations benefit from the following major traits found in the Virtues line:
- Consecrated Ground: Adept tier. Consecrations are ground targeted. EXTREMELY potent for making the most of your consecrations.
- Master of Consecrations: Master tier. Your consecrations recharge 20% faster.
- Extended Consecrations: Grandmaster tier. Your Consecrations last 50% longer.
Centurion’s Pick : Wall of Reflection
No surprises here. Wall of Reflection is my clear favorite, providing defensive and offensive capabilities on a relatively short cooldown. Regardless of where you like to spend your time in-game, this skill earns its place on your bars. Personally, I cannot wait to enter Ascalonian Catacombs again and drop this baby in line of sight of those troublesome Ranger mobs.
And that’s all for this week.
As much as I’d love to turn this post into a giant skill compendium, I would like to avoid overloading you with information. Next week I’ll be back to cover our Meditations, Shouts and Signets. In the meantime, if you have any insight into Heals and Consecrations that you’d like to share with me and the rest of the Order, please stop by our forums! If your favorites differ from mine, or if you’ve found ways to exploit… err… “creatively utilize” any of the skills we covered today, I would love to hear about it.