Greetings, shield brothers and sisters! Last week I gave you an in-depth analysis of our Heals and Consecrations, and today we’ll continue by looking at our Meditations, Shouts and Signets.
I’ve taken the liberty of recording a video of each skill group 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.
We’ve got quite a bit to cover, so let’s get started!
Contemplation of Purity – Contemplation of Purity is a very powerful ability, breaking you out of stuns and removing all conditions for the Guardian and replacing them with boons. It is amazing for facing off against enemies who focus on multiple conditions, like the Mesmer. With a 60-second cooldown, timing is important. Use it too early in a fight, and you may only clear a single condition or two. Use it too late, and you’re probably already dead. But be warned, don’t get tunnel vision and only watch for the quantity of conditions. You also have to consider conditions which stack in intensity, especially Bleeding. A stack or two won’t matter much, but get eight or more, and you’re going to be hurting. Waiting to pop Contemplation ’til around five stacks means you’ve just undone all the time it took for your enemy to put those stacks up in the first place.
It will take timing, practice and a fair bit of discipline to get the most out of this skill, but that’s why I like it so much. There is a real risk and reward to its use.
To make things a bit easier, here’s a full list of which boons you’ll receive for each condition removed:
One last important note about this skill is that it pairs up extremely well with the Martyr weapon ability from the Staff. Martyr will draw conditions from your nearby allies and place them on you, while simultaneously giving you every boon (except Aegis). If you use Contemplation of Purity immediately following Martyr, you’ll remove all of those conditions, give yourself Aegis AND increase the duration of each of the other boons (except for Might, which stacks in intensity).
Judge’s Intervention will break stuns, teleport you to a target up to 1200 units away, and then explode upon arrival, BURNING everything within range! It’s a great gap closer on a relatively short 45-second cooldown. The fact that you can use it while stunned is just icing on the combustible cake! For the offensive Guardian, this skill pairs up well with the Fiery Wrath trait that boots all of our damage by 10% against burning enemies.
Greatsword-wielding Guardians especially should take note: a Leap of Faith into a group of enemies (Blinds), followed by Judge’s Intervention (Burns), followed by Whirling Wrath is incredibly lethal. You’ll feel like the harbinger of Balthazar, god of fire and battle, and your flames shall leave the wicked writhing in agony!
Smite Condition removes a condition and damages nearby enemies. It damages enemies in an area of effect blast centered on the Guardian, and will do so even if you do not have a condition on you at the time. The damage will be higher, however, if you have a condition. With only a 20-second cooldown, it’s ready to use on a consistent basis. It can even be used when stunned.
I want to like this skill, but I honestly find it pretty lackluster. You’ve only got space for three utility skills at a time, and it’s hard for me to justify taking Smite Condition over others. The low cooldown and AoE damage is decent, but we have several means of condition removal at your disposal already. If it added a stack of Burning to enemies, I’d be tempted. If it removed all conditions, and if the damage increased in intensity for each condition removed, then I’d absolutely give it a second look. As it stands, however, I don’t consider it worth the opportunity cost of sacrificing another skill.
Merciful Intervention teleports you to the nearest ally and creates a healing area around them. When you consider this skill has an 80-second cooldown and costs six skill points to unlock in the 3rd skill tier, you may question what you’re getting. While you can’t smart target the teleport, it does have an effective range of 1200 units IF the nearest ally happens to be out at that range. Where this skill shines is one key phrase: “healing AREA”, as in area of effect. Since abilities will affect a maximum of five players, this means Merciful Intervention can heal up to five allies if they’re in range! If you’re going to focus on Support, then this is your Meditation.
All Meditations will benefit from the following traits in the Valor line:
- Meditation Mastery – Adept tier. Your Meditations recharge 20% faster.
- Focused Mind – Master tier. Makes each of your Meditations instant. When every second counts, accept no substitutes.
- Monk’s Focus – Grandmaster tier. Your Meditation skills heal you. This is an amazing trait! You may think that this would only be useful for Support builds, but remember that the Valor line boosts our Toughness AND our critical damage. While Burning can’t crit (sadly), our weapon attacks can.
Centurion’s Pick: Judge’s Intervention
It’s a tough call between this and Contemplation of Purity, but in the end, as someone who plays aggressively, I’ll take a burning, stun-breaking, maximum range gap closer every time. If I was using a build that picked up Monk’s Focus, chances are I’d pick up a second Meditation, in which case Contemplation would be my #2.
“Retreat!” grants Aegis and Swiftness to the Guardian and nearby allies. If you’ve read my column over the past weeks, you probably already know I LOVE this skill. As I’ve said before, the only problem I have with it is that it should be named “Charge!” instead, because that’s how I most often use it. He who controls the battle, wins the fight, and he who gets to the fight first has the best chance of controlling it. This skill gives you an impressive fifteen seconds of Swiftness on a 60-second cooldown, and that alone has won me many a match in structured PvP. Not to be overshadowed, don’t forget that Aegis is a very powerful boon that only we Guardians can reliably apply. Using this skill means you and your allies are charging into the fight able to shrug off the next attack aimed at you.
If you have the Pure of Heart adept trait from the Honor line, “Retreat!” will also heal you and your allies once your Aegis is removed. If you picked up the Shattered Aegis adept trait from the Zeal line, “Retreat!” you and your allies will BURN your enemies once the Aegis is removed. That’s an impressive amount of utility and power from a single skill.
“Hold the Line!” grants Protection and Regeneration to the Guardian and nearby allies, and breaks stuns. Remember that both of these boons stack in duration. This means that “Hold the Line!” stacks Regeneration with the active use of your Virtue of Resolve, and will stack Protection with the active use of your Virtue of Courage if you pick up the Inspired Virtue adept trait from the Virtues line. This is really powerful if your build focused on getting the most out of your Virtues, especially since it only has a 35-second cooldown.
“Stand Your Ground!” grants Stability to the Guardian and nearby allies. This Stability may only last for three seconds, but for those three seconds you’ll be immune to Stun, Launch, Knockdown, Push, Pull, Sink, Float, Fear and Daze. Considering this Shout only has a 30-second cooldown, it’s a fairly reliable method of offering that immunity.
All Shouts will benefit from the following traits in the Honor line:
- Superior Aria - Adept tier. Your Shouts recharge 20% faster. Exceptional for a 10 point Adept trait! This means “Retreat!” is usable every 48 seconds, and the others roughly every 24 seconds.
- Pure of Voice – Grandaster tier. Each shout converts a single condition into a boon. Useful, but pretty lackluster for a 30 point Grandmaster trait.
Centurion’s Pick: “Retreat!”
It probably comes as no surprise, but this is my clear favorite. I use it in every area of the game, and it feels wrong not to have it on my bars. Speed kills. Pure and simple.
Bane Signet - Passive: Improves Power. Active: Knocks down and damages your enemy. This signet gives you a 2-second knockdown that’s effective at a range of 1200 units on a 45-second cooldown. Great for setting up any ability you’d like your enemy to hold still for. When you’re ready to deliver that knockout punch and don’t want them to get a heal off, that’s when Bane Signet shines. Given its range, it’s also handy against fleeing enemies.
Signet of Wrath – Passive: Grants increased condition damage. Active: Immobilizes your target. This signet gives you a 3-second immobilization that’s effective at a range of 1200 units on a 30-second cooldown. Similar to Bane Signet, it’s useful against fleeing enemies, but don’t underestimate its usefulness for keeping people away from you as well. When a hammer-wielding Norn is trying to make you into a nail, those 3 seconds just might buy you enough time for your heal to come off cooldown.
Signet of Judgement – Passive: Reduces incoming damage. Active: Grants Retaliation to the Guardian and nearby allies. This signet gives you 5 seconds of Retaliation at a maximum range of 240 units on a 30-second cooldown. The passive 10% damage reduction is nice, but is it worth the opportunity cost of taking it in lieu of another skill? Not in my opinion. Retaliation is okay, but it only redirects a portion of incoming damage back to its source. If it was 100%, then I’d give this skill a second look.
Signet of Mercy – Passive: Improves healing. Active: Breaks stuns and revives a nearby ally within a 900-unit range. The revive is on a 2-minute cooldown, but it is pretty useful. The passive healing buff is 75 at level 80. For Support builds, it is hard to overlook the power of this skill. It is also good for structured PvP for Guardian builds that max out healing to withstand an incredible amount of punishment while holding a control point. Not to be underestimated.
Signet of Resolve - Passive: Removes a condition every 10 seconds. Active: As I covered last week, it gives you a Heal on a 30-second cooldown that heals for a similar amount as Shelter . It also removes a condition every 10 seconds as a passive ability.
All Signets will benefit from the following traits in the Radiance line:
- Signet Mastery - Adept tier. Your Signets recharge 20% faster. This includes Signet of Resolve, giving you a 24-second healing option.
- Inscribed Removal - Master tier. Using a Signet removes a condition from the Guardian.
- Perfect Inscriptions - Grandmaster tier. Increases the passive effects of each Signet. How much of an improvement is unknown at this time. At least, I was unable to quantify it as of yet. I would hope it would be significant for a 30-point trait. I’ll try to test this during the final beta weekend.
Excluding Signet of Resolve, since I covered it last week, Bane Signet is my favorite. As an offensively-minded Guardian, it was my clear choice. It’s no secret that Guardians don’t currently have effective combat range past 900 units, and many professions will try to exploit that by kiting us. Bane Signet can help level the playing field.
And that’s all for this week. Next week, I’ll be back to conclude the skill series by looking at our Spirit Weapons and Elite Skills. In the meantime, if you have any insight into the skills I covered today that you’d like to share with 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.