Virtue is the unique profession mechanic for the guardian and is rather simple to understand. The guardian gets three virtues, located above their weapon skills, that provide passive benefits until activated for a greater effect. Much like a signet, once activated, the passive benefit goes on cooldown and won’t be available until the cooldown expires.
Each virtue’s activation applies the effect to nearby allies as well, so a guardian has to decide between maintaining their passive (and strong) benefit, or giving it up to help their nearby allies. It’s a constant war between being selfish and selfless for a guardian. Personally, though, unless you’re in structured PvP, I believe taking the selfish route may be easier. Using your virtues to save yourself and allowing allies to benefit at that given time seems appropriate, especially if they are not in your group.
The three benefits are passive regeneration (Virtue of Resolve), Aegis every 40 seconds (Virtue of Courage), and burning every fifth attack (Virtue of Justice).
Virtue of Justice
Virtue of Justice is both simple and complex. Passively, it grants burning for 1 second every fifth hit (skills that hit multiple times grant multiple charges). The effect has no passive cooldown and burning stacks on an enemy, so you can deal some serious damage quickly. The activation effect grants 5 seconds of burning to you and your nearby allies on their next attack, going on cooldown for 30 seconds.
Flames indicate how many attacks you've made, the brighter the flames, the closer you are to causing burning with your next attack.
There will rarely be a time to use this virtue whenever you’re not in a group, unless you’re about to be downed (the 5 seconds of burning can be help finish an enemy off). In a group (or with lots of allies nearby), activating this virtue will grant a massive spike in damage, worth well more than what you can do by yourself.
For this virtue, save its activation until you’re going to be downed or when you’re near a large group of players (who are actively attacking).
Virtue of Resolve
Virtue of Resolve passively grants regeneration, not the boon but just healing over time. The technical term is “rejuvenation.” It is affected by healing power and scales with your level. The skill can be activated to heal yourself and nearby allies with a sixty second cooldown.
This one is a bit easier to understand when to and when not to activate. This virtue should only be activated to save yourself or an ally from being downed. Even in large groups, using a support skill to heal nearby allies is usually better than giving up your passive life regeneration and you shouldn’t waste it unless you’re about to be downed.
For this virtue, save its activation until you or an ally is about to be downed.
Virtue of Courage
Virtue of Courage grants Aegis every 40 seconds. Upon activation, it grants Aegis to you and your nearby allies and has a 90 second cooldown. This one is a bit tricky; the activation effect is superior to its passive effect (you only lose out on an extra Aegis on use). For more information on Aegis, check out our Boon Guide.
You should activate this virtue whenever you’re about to take a massive hit or you and your allies are about to get a large AoE attack incoming. This virtue gains a very powerful ability through traits – it can apply 3 seconds of stability on use, which can block a large AoE knockdown.
For this virtue, save its activation until you or your allies are about to take a heavy hit.
Virtues can be instantly recharged with the elite skill Renewed Focus. The virtue trait line also provides many benefits, including lowering virtue cooldown times and increased boon duration.
Virtues do not stack, so you do not get double burning if two guardians activate Virtue of Justice. So while in a group or with a group of organized players, be sure to organize who uses their virtues when, to avoid a large waste of resources.
That’s pretty much all there is to virtues! A rather simple but powerful mechanic that belongs exclusively to the guardian. Be sure to check out our guardian guide for more detailed information on the profession.