There are a total of 8 Boons in Guild Wars 2, each causing a positive effect on the recipient. Boons tend to be considered the polar opposite of Conditions with each Boon causing an effect for a limited duration. Boons stack in Duration but with the exception of Might, their effectiveness does not stack. You could not for example have two stacks of Protection (which would give 66% damage reduction) instead, you are limited to just one Protection Boon (33% damage reduction). Boons are designed to support any number of play styles as well as offer significant improvements to your character even if it is only for a short period.
Almost all professions have access to several boons though some, like the Guardian, excel at creating or distributing them. Boons only tend to last several seconds due to their potency but this is often enough to provide you or allies with a significant buff.
Unlike Conditions, many Boons (with the exception of Regeneration and Retaliation) function at their maximum potential without the necessity to invest in any attributes. However, Boons can still be stripped by other players, meaning Boon heavy builds (where a player relies on their continued benefits) can be left vulnerable should they come across an individual intent on removing them.
List of Boons
Aegis - Block the next attack.
Aegis is a Boon that for all intents and purposes is unique to the Guardian. Although the Mesmer can obtain it, this would be based purely on random acquisition rather than a guarantee (from Chaos Storm and Signet of Inspiration). The Guardian however can regularly obtain it through the use of their Virtues (Virtue of Courage) as well as a multitude of traits and a single skill (Retreat!). Aegis guarantees that the next attack on you is blocked (similar in functionality to Blind) making it incredibly powerful in mitigating damage and makes Guardians, who focus on its use, very difficult to damage if its use is timed right.
Fury - 20% Critical Chance increase. Stacks in duration.
Fury provides a flat 20% improvement to your critical strike chance, allowing for some wriggle room in terms of your character setup. For example, if you know your profession can guarantee Fury in certain situations and you seek to crit regularly (50% would be more than sufficient) you could aim for a base of 30% in the knowledge that when a fight does break out, you can drink (in the Engineers case) an Elixir B to gain an instant 20% boost, taking your total amount to 50%. Alternatively, as there is no cap to your chances of landing a critical hit there is the potential to achieve a significantly higher value. In most circumstances, this Boon really has no negatives and will, irrespective of setup, provide you with a brief benefit to your damage.
Might - X damage & condition damage per attack increase. Stacks intensity.
Might, unlike other Boons, stacks in intensity and so is similar in principal to Bleeding in that you can have more than one active. Instead of it being on your target however, it is cast on yourself. At level 80 Might provides 30 additional Power and 30 Condition Damage which in the grand scheme of things is negligible in small quantities and only results in a minor increase to damage output. For the most part, unless you are stacking significant amount of Might (10+) there really is little value in pursuing it. Even then, it’s so susceptible to being stripped by other professions that to rely on it would leave you incredibly vulnerable in many encounters. Enjoy it when you have it, but don't use it as a crutch for your build.
Protection - 33% damage reduction. Stacks in duration.
Protection is once again, like many boons, primarily available to the guardian; they have four weapon skills and one utility skill that provide the Boon, as well as a couple of traits. Other professions do have access to it from several utility skills or traits but these are limited in comparison. Thankfully, many of the guardians skills can be projected to others, meaning it’s highly likely that even if your profession can’t cause Protection, you will receive it at some stage. The addition of traits that grant Protection when Immobilized, Stunned, Dazed or generally anything that stops you functioning will also see you receive the Boon. I really can't recommend enough the importance of obtaining such traits if you are serious about PvP. As Protection also provides the damage reduction for its entire duration (often 5 seconds) it really is invaluable in all combat situations.
Regeneration - Regenerates X health per second. Stacks in duration.
Regeneration is the only Boon that has its effectiveness determined by an attribute. Although attributes have been discussed in a separate guide, I wouldn’t consider it worthwhile to persue Compassion directly (Compassion affects the amount of health regenerated per second while the Boon is active). The results from heavy investment in Compassion aren't great in comparison to the significant investment required from the player, as PvP amulets that provide Compassion will suffocate your damage. For the most part Regeneration is negligible, though can amount to several hundred health per second and in some circumstances, will save your life in moments of desperation.
Retaliation - Does X damage to an opponent each time they hit you. Stacks in duration.
Retaliation is currently much underused and is only found in 4 weapon skills (2 in for the mesmer, 1 for the guardian and 1 for the necromancer) but more common in traits and provides a small amount of incoming damage back to attackers. Similarly to Regeneration, its values are small (but do scale with your Power) and when linked with the very limited skill sets that cause it, mean you will seldom encounter it. There are 8 traits in total that grant Retaliation but the majority are linked to the mesmer and guardians limited states (whether downed, blocking or upon reviving an ally) making the window of opportunity very narrow.
Swiftness - 33% movement speed increase. Stacks in duration.
Swiftness alongside Vigor (see below) is probably my favourite Boon in the entire game. Speed should never be under appreciated in any encounter and the ability to move quickly, especially in Player versus Player, is so valuable. Although many movement effects in Guild Wars 2 don’t stack with one another, a 33% increase to your speed is significant and is not only a brilliant tool offensively (great for chasing someone down) but is also excellent defensively (great for running away!). When combined with Vigor, it really is formidable. If your profession is lucky enough to have a skill or trait that causes Swiftness, you should thank your blessings.
Vigor - Faster endurance regeneration. Stacks in duration.
Vigor increases your endurance regeneration by 100% and without endurance you cannot dodge. Perhaps for the inexperienced it would be easy to dismiss dodge in Guild Wars 2 as a gimmick, but with time invested it quickly becomes apparent how fundamental dodge is to not only staying alive but remaining mobile. What vigor does do is allow you to dodge regularly, as your dodge meter will quickly refill while the Boon is active. Although Vigor can be removed like any Boon, it’s highly likely that in a matter of seconds you’ll have the ability to dodge again making the removal of it very minor. Traits such as Invigorating Speed when combined with Infused Precision will almost guarantee you permanent Vigor and thus an almost permanent ability to dodge whether the Boon is removed or not. In competitive PvP I cannot recommend Vigor enough, as not only will it save you life countless times but the damage avoidance it affords means you can be a little more experimental with your character setup when trying to balance out your toughness or vitality.
- Boons are valuable buffs that provide great benefits to you and your team mates.
- Guardians excel at creating Boons, but most professions have some access to them.
- Swiftness and Vigor combined will allow you to avoid damage for significant periods through your running speed and ability to dodge repeatedly.
- Traits that cause Protection when you are Immobilized, Stunned or Dazed are invaluable in a PvP environment. A 33% damage reduction will regularly save your life.
- Boons you receive or pass on to others can be turned into Conditions by some professions.
- Relying on Might stacking to achieve high damage is very risky as the single stack can be removed instantly by other professions.
- The only Boon to rely on attributes is Regeneration, the rest all function at their maximum capability without any investment by you.