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Guardian Guide

August 11, 2012 - 6:04pm -- Xerin
Guardian Guide

The guardian is a profession that plays defensively, but doesn’t lack in offense. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t feature the “holy trinity” of tank, healer, and damage, but instead each profession is self-sufficient. When it comes to the guardian, they are at their best while defending, but that doesn’t necessitate their lack of offense or support. There is a lot of comparison in the profession to the warrior, who is also very “tanky,” but again, Guild Wars 2 requires some relearning to understand what “tanky” means.

GW2 Guardian Icon

Guardian Quick Facts

  • One of GW2’s two Soldier professions.
  • Able to wear Heavy armor.
  • Uses Virtues​ to provide a passive benefit or they can be activated to apply the benefit to nearby allies.
  • One of the best professions to support and defend, can help protect siege weapons, defend control points, and block movement through choke points.

Guardian Themes and Combat Roles

It’s important to understand the fundamental mechanics of the game before one decides that the guardian is or is not the profession for them. While the guardian is similar to a tank or healer, it isn’t one. Nor is it a hybrid. It’s a profession like any other, but instead focuses more on defensive and support magic. Any profession in the game can tank or heal, as each profession has a vast array of defensive and support options, but the guardian simply has more.

There are no taunts in GW2, so by that account, gaining the attention of an enemy requires control. No profession in the game is durable enough to withstand constant damage, especially from difficult enemies, which makes tanking impossible in the traditional sense. Tanking is more about controlling the enemy with cripple, using wards to limit movement (a guardian exclusive), making sure everyone understands the necessity to avoid damage, and AoE skills to deter enemy movement.

There are no substantial direct heals that don’t have long cooldowns or are not self-targeted. This makes “dedicated healers” another obsolete mechanic in GW2. While guardians do have many support abilities, they are by no means meant to sit and heal a tank in combat. They can, however, support their allies and do a fantastic job of it.

These two points are not mutually exclusive of dealing damage, either. Like any profession, the guardian can deal a competitive amount of damage, depending on how it is built. The difference of say a guardian and a warrior, both soldier professions, is that the warrior focuses more on burst attacks while a guardian focuses on sustained damage. The guardian also has less health, but the tradeoff is that the guardian has a bigger focus on damage mitigation.

Let’s think of this in more practical terms, a guardian can rush into battle with a mace and shield, attack their enemies with their auto-attack, which is a three part chain, but can also throw a symbol on the ground that grants regeneration, and shield themselves and allies from attacks. This is their defensive build, but by using weapon switching (the ability to switch between two sets of weapons), they can switch over to a two-handed hammer, which grants them hard hitting attacks, immobilize, and Ring of Warding which allows them to control enemy movement.

So the different builds allow them to play defensively, offensively, or as a support, like every other profession can, but the majority of their abilities do focus on defense and support, which makes them, again, an excellent point defend in structured PvP, someone to absorb damage for others in a dungeon, and a great ally to have on the field. Just remember, that unlike other MMOs, GW2 does not require a guardian or warrior to be in a group for it to be successful.

The unique profession mechanic is virtues, which we’ll look at more in-depth in a second, but it’s easiest to explain the system as three free signets. Each of the three virtues provides a passive buff/boon and can be activated, trading the passive benefit for an instant effect, putting the virtue on cooldown. Through traits, the virtues can grant boons or give the guardian retaliation:

  • Virtue of Justice: Burn foes with every fifth attack. Activation (30 second cooldown): Grants burning on the next attack for the guardian and its allies.
  • Virtue of Resolve: Grants Aegis (blocks next attack) every 40 seconds. Activation (90 second cooldown): Grants Aegis to the guardian and its allies.
  • Virtue of Courage: Regenerates health. Activation (60 second cooldown) heals the guardian and its allies.

Guardians get a ton of nifty tools to help support / tank. Meditation allows guardians to teleport, Consecration provides ground targeted benefits, Spirit Weapons which summon weapons that attack and can be dismissed prematurely for an extra effect, Symbols which apply a short duration symbol on the ground that provides a benefit, Tomes which summon spellbooks that act as bundles which replace the main skill bar, and Wards which create impassable marks which prevent enemies from passing through.

Guardian Weapons

Guardian Hammer Skills

Guardians can equip an array of weapons, up to twelve different weapon sets. While this number is a bit smaller than the warrior, they still have a lot of variety between offense (two-handed swords and hammers), control (staves), and support.  You can read more about forming builds in our Intro Guide to Builds.

The weapons that guardian can equip along with their associated skills can be seen in-game by opening the Hero window [H] and selecting the Skills and Traits tab on the left. You can see a list of available weapons for the guardian below.

Main Hand

Off-Hand

Two-Handed

Aquatic

Scepter

Shield

Staff

Trident

Shield

Focus

Hammer

Spear

Sword

Torch

Greatsword

 

Guardian Trait Lines

Upon reaching level 11, you will begin earning Trait Points (1 per level for a total of 70 at level 80) that can be spent in any of the five available Trait Lines. Each point spent will increase 2 primary or secondary attributes, with every 5 points spent unlocking either a Minor or Major trait.

GW2 Guardian Traits

The trait lines for the guardian are listed below, along with their associated attributes and weapon or utility skill type associations.

Zeal

  • +10 Power per point
  • +1 Expertise per point
  • Improves symbols, spirit weapons, and conditions.

Radiance

  • +10 Percision per point
  • +10 Malice per point
  • Improves signets, blind, and various conditions.

Valor

  • +10 Toughness per point
  • +1 Prowess per point
  • Improves blocking and meditations.

Honor

  • +10 Vitality per point
  • +10 Compassion per point
  • Improves symbols, support, shouts, and dodges.

Virtues

  • +1 Concentration per point
  • +1 Willpower per point
  • Improves virtues, elite skills, and consecrations.

Virtue

Virtue is an interesting profession mechanic because it’s mostly passive and provides a rather large benefit. If we think about it logically, the three virtues are essentially three signets, so it’s like having three extra skill slots that you can’t switch the skills out of, but are available all of the time. The benefits granted passively are, of course, far superior than the activation of each virtue. For instance, passive regeneration will heal you for more over the duration than activating it, but if you’re about to die then the regeneration won’t matter.

Virtue of Courage

This skill provides passive regeneration, enough regeneration in fact to keep a guardian alive through most equal level standard fights without much healing. In PvE, there is no need to activate the virtue unless you need to prevent yourself from being downed. In PvP, however, passive regeneration won’t be enough to keep up with the heat, so you’ll want to consider this more a heal and less a boon.

Considering the heal applies to allies, you can use it to keep some of your comrades alive. If someone is about to be downed, then you’ll want to rush in and use it to keep them up, but in my opinion, this tactic is best used for structured PvP, dungeons, and places where having someone “downed” can make or break the team. Otherwise, standard healing abilities are a better measure.

Virtue of Justice

Virtue of Justice Flames

Burning is a great condition to apply and it’s a major source of extra DPS for the guardian. Burning is affected by condition damage, which can be increased through the Radiance trait. This is a somewhat interesting virtue because you’ll gain one second of burning or 320 base damage, every fifth attack. If you activate the skill, it will grant you and your nearby allies 5 seconds of burning on the next attack (or 1600 base damage). It has a 30 second cooldown. Another important thing to understand is that it’s “on hit,” which means each successful hit counts as one strike. AoE skills like Wave of Wrath.

Knowing when to activate this virtue is tricky. First, 1 second of burning is wonderful in PvP, because it’s enough to give you that extra boost in damage, but not enough for someone to purge the condition. In PvE, it’s a wonderful DPS boost. Second, the activation applies to the entire group and burning stacks in duration. So, you can apply a long duration burn to an enemy whenever multiple allies strike a target. Third, you have to count how many activations you’ll get in 30 seconds (or the total combat duration) vs. the amount of allies attacking and how much burn you’ll receive from them and yourself. If it’s just you, then five seconds of burn may not be worth the total damage you’ll receive from the total sum of activations during combat.

That might come off a little bit confusing, so the simpler version is this: you’ll get more damage by not activating it, unless you are near allies or require an immediate large amount of burst and you’re only fighting one enemy.

Some may ask what the blue flames are on the bottom left side of the skill bar (pictured above). That's the indicator for the virtue of justice. The larger the flames, the closer a guardian is to burning their next enemy.

Virtue of Resolve

This one applies Aegis every 40 seconds and, when activated, grants you and nearby allies Aegis with a 90 second cooldown. This is a very simple one to understand. Aegis blocks the next attack, so if you’re about to get hit by a larger attack, you can activate this virtue and block it. If you’re in an area with a lot of allies and everyone’s taking attacks, then activating it can prevent a large amount of damage. Otherwise, it passively increases your damage mitigation.

Additional Guardian Tips

Guardians are one of the best point defenders. Using skills like Ring of Warding and Line of Warding to block choke points can direct enemies away from points and keep entrances. Shield of Absorption can push enemies back and block projectiles.

Stability is important in PvP because it prevents knockdowns and blocks an array of negative effects. Hallowed Ground and “Stand Your Ground!” impart stability and should be included in most PvP builds.

Interventions are great, because they allow you to teleport to a nearby ally. It’s a good idea to have at least one intervention in a build in PvP to allow you to quickly move in and out of danger.

While GW2 doesn’t have a healing profession, you can build a guardian into a very strong healer / support profession. With the large amount of shielding abilities and skills that place regeneration, a guardian can keep a large number of allies at high health.

While downed, a guardian can use Wave of Light to push enemies away, which is great in PvP because it interrupts the finisher or in PvE to give more time to finish enemies off. 

What do you think about the guardian? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to bookmark this page (using our nifty bookmark tool below) to return for more guardian information.

sylvinstar
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Guardian is in my top 4 favorite classes.  Thanks for the article yes

Hammond
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Great article, love that you went out of the way to explain how the guardian doesn't fit with traditional RPG practices.

 

(Also, maybe just re-look at the weapons table and fix it up) ;)

Xerin
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Haha thanks ^^ fixed it up.

Owatatsumi
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Nice job. I didn't get a chance to try out the Guardian yet, so this guide was a great start for me to get an understanding of it.

whoresbane
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Nice article man, very good examples and comparing to the other soldier class. I was not to sure about the guardian before but now i think it will be my main.

"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists."

oneeyered
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Warrior and Guardian are my two favorites and I really think a Guard is far more productive sword/board than 2 hand any day. I am still determining that aspect with the warrior as going 2 hand/horn really puts out a punch and mixes the two classes up better (ex: not running 2 types of sword/board classes).

Its a simple world for complicated people

 

 

Yski
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The more I know about them, the easier it'll be to kill them.

By the way, I could have missed something, but I don't think guardians can use a main-hand shield. cheeky

Every single forum I've used to spread anti guardian propaganda has subsequently died out on me. Coincidence? I think not!

aseeon
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It was supposed to be a Mace, i think :>

ArcherAvatar
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You have the virtue of Resolve and Courage effects flip-flopped.  (Resolve heals and Courage blocks) 

You also have Shield listed as a main-hand weapon in place of Mace which is absent.

Sorry about the nit picking... in the main, it's a very well written article.

oneeyered
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Well I recant what I previously said. After testing a Norn Guard today and playing 2 hand, he was just decimating everything. However, shield for block would be most benefical when holding areas in PvP no doubt.

Its a simple world for complicated people

 

 

Confessioner (not verified)
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You confused virtue of resolve with virtue of courage in the explanation of each.

eguiandx (not verified)
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