Another beta weekend approaches, my shield brothers and sisters! As we sharpen our blades and repair our armor, now is the perfect time to reflect upon what makes the Guardian great. This will be the first chance many players have to stand among us, and it is our duty to initiate them into the Order.
So let’s start with the basics…
The Guardian is a heavy armor, low health profession best known for our damage mitigation, health regeneration and exclusive use of the three Virtues:
- The Virtue of Courage blocks the next incoming attack. Not only can Guardians gain this Aegis every 40 seconds as a passive ability, we can also share it with our nearby allies and block the next attack aimed at them. Aegis is a boon unique to the Guardian, and clever usage of it makes us a force to be reckoned with.
- The Virtue of Justice applies the Burning condition to enemies on every 5th attack. This ability can also be shared with allies, burning their enemies on their next attack.
- The Virtue of Resolve provides the Guardian with passive health Regeneration. Upon activation, this virtue will heal the Guardian and his allies.
Our Virtues are bound by default to our F1-F3 keys, and each has a different cooldown for their active ability. Powerful even in their passive form, knowing when to use them actively is the key to mastery.
Aside from our Virtues, Guardians are renowned for our impressive arsenal of support abilities. In addition to Aegis, these include several means of removing conditions from ourselves and our allies. With the right trait we can even boost the Toughness of our allies, making them more damage resistant just by being in our presence. We also have several means of providing them with Protection, which reduces all damage taken by a third. Most impressive of all, we have several ways to weave in these support mechanics seamlessly with our damage dealing abilities. This is especially true for our symbols, magical inscriptions we place on the ground to damage our enemies and provide Regeneration, Retaliation and Swiftness to ourselves and our allies.
My current favorite support skill is a shout called “Retreat!” which provides Aegis for our allies and an impressive fifteen second Swiftness boost. From my personal experience, this ability should be renamed “CHARGE!” Those fifteen seconds are a long time when you’re running to assault an objective in PvP or chasing down fleeing enemies.
The Guardian’s healing capabilities are almost without equal as well. We can trait to share our passive Regeneration from Virtue of Courage with those around us, pouring out a constant stream of healing in our wake. Our Healing Breeze skill will heal us and our allies and stacks with Regeneration, making it extremely potent. Even the default attack chain of our mace heals nearby allies on every third swing. With the right traits, we can heal our allies at the end of our dodge rolls or even empower our Greatsword attacks to heal us. Even our Aegis can be traited to heal anytime it’s removed.
There may not be a dedicated healing profession in Guild Wars 2, but given our methods of supporting and healing, the Guardian may be a perfect fit for those with MMO healing backgrounds.
Despite our low health pool, our high armor, condition removals, shielding, passive Regeneration and healing abilities make us tough to take down solo. In a group, we can easily turn the tide of battle and turn a defeat into a victory. We may lack the raw offensive burst of some professions, but fighting a living enemy isn’t as easy as swinging at a target dummy. Guardians can survive where others would fall, and we can prolong almost any engagement into a war of attrition. When a Guardian holds an objective, the enemy seeks reinforcements.
As I touched upon earlier, we make considerable use of the deadly Burning condition. Not only do we have several ways to apply it, we even have a major trait that increases all of our damage done to a Burning enemy by 10%. The other condition we can apply with our offensive weaponry is Blind, which causes opponents to miss with their next attack. I look forward to refining the use of this condition into an art form, neutralizing enemy abilities that are either heavy hitting or have long cooldowns. With the amount of condition removals at our disposal, our mobility can easily match our durability. Considering that we also have abilities that allow us to teleport or leap directly to our foes, a tenacious greatsword-wielding Guardian can end up being an enemy’s worst nightmare.
There may not be a dedicated damage profession in Guild Wars 2, but if you’re bored from being a one-trick pony in another MMO, blindly mashing a static DPS rotation and looking at damage meters instead of the fight in front of you, then the Guardian may be a perfect fit for you.
What I appreciate most of all about the Guardian is how perfectly it suits a tactically-minded player. We have bubbles, wards and knockbacks, each of which are ideal for area denial. If you locate a good choke point, a Guardian can block it long enough to make an escape or to cut off enemy reinforcements. We can also use these abilities to hold objectives until our own reinforcements arrive, or to protect downed players on the verge of getting back in the fight.
With our mobility, condition removal and general hardiness, Guardians are exceptional battlefield commanders. If you want to impose your will in combat and control when and how a fight happens, the Guardian allows you to do that. Being effective at almost any range helps as well, and while I’d love to see a truly effective long-range attack added to the class, we’re incredibly powerful in the mid- to short-range. He who controls the fight wins the fight, and the Guardian excels at doing just that.
If you’ve been a tank in another MMO, then you know what I’m talking about. Good tanks can take a hit, but great ones can determine when and where those hits land. Control is the key. If you have tanking experience from another MMO and thrive upon being the person that an entire battle revolves around, then the Guardian may be the perfect fit for you.
In closing, I believe the Guardian is an exemplary profession that blends support, control and damage into a stalwart vanguard for the front lines. I encourage you to try one for yourself and see if it fits your play style. With our durability, self-healing and condition removals, the Guardian is a forgiving profession that you can pick up and play easily, making it ideal for new MMO players. Veteran players will appreciate the Guardian’s ability to adapt to nearly any situation and role. Our ability to enhance a group, making it greater than the sum of its parts, is what places Guardians in high demand for both PvE and PvP.
I look forward to fighting alongside each of you during the next beta weekend, and I encourage Guardians everywhere to share their exploits on our forums.