Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Some thoughts on the Guardian after the Beta Weekend

General observations:
There is no CLASS vs CLASS. It’s about Build vs Build.

Guardians pretty much lived up to my expectations, they are incredibly good defensive support although they fail pretty hard at anything else. Their ability to provide massive protection, blocking, rejuv and regen is very very good. The simple fact that they can constantly be getting in the way and making peoples lives incredibly frustration certainly bodes well for them in group pvp. They also work well with a defensive oriented d/d ele as between the two of them they provide incredible uptime on prot and regen and the d/d ele is good at control/damage too. I can hold my own against a group of people for awhile but I’d have a hard time chasing anyone down. As for healing skills, I used Healing Breeze exclusively
-High potential for large amounts of damage, through DPS and spiking.
-More direct forms of defending allies, ie. using protection spells to defend them rather than KDing an enemy.
-Very malleable, can trait in very different specialties and the variety of weapons can be adapted to do any task.
-Can have very high survivability.
-Very powerful solo character.

- No sustained, high-damage, range output.
- Relies a lot of skills for survivability, ie. once you pop sanctuary, if you don’t pull of the perfect SoA, you can die easily (unless you spec toughness of course).
- Has barely any positioning utility skills, ie. if you’re caught out of position you’re more likely to be punished than say a Mesmer.

Top 3
  • Justice is Blind (an amazing twist to the Justice Virtue – really lets you ponder all the time whether to activate that thing or leave it in passive)
  • Altruistic Healing
  • Resolute Healer (rezzing with style – great to get a little breathing room to get the rezz trough)
Virtue of Justice
  • only active offensive support available
  • passive/active ratio acceptably balanced
  • there are some corner cases (3+ opponents in AoE) where the passive justice does more damage even with 5 allies around than the activated one
  • with the traited Blind (Justice is Blind) and Might (Inspired Virtue) overall an interesting and tactically challenging ability on a reasonable CD
Virtue of Resolve
  • activation vastly inferior to passive if not traited condition removal + restoration application and NOT traited for Battle Presence and Inspired Virtue
    not traited:
    passive ~200/tick => 200/sec overall
    active ~2000 x5 over 60sec => 167/sec overall
    passive ~220/tick x5 => 1100/sec overall (Battle Presence and Resolute)
    active ~2000 + 240/tick(5sec) x5 = 266/sec + 3 conditions removed every 60 seconds (Purity of Resolve and Inspired Virtue)
    only time you would ever want to activate Virtue of Resolve is when you or a good portion of your allies would otherwise certainly be dying in the next few seconds
Virtue of Courage
  • while the aegis boon is on paper incredibly powerful, blocking a complete attack, it does not translate to gameplay.
  • the passive part:
    - aegis on a random 40sec (30sec traited) CD is worth very little, as you can’t decide which attack to block, and more often than not this will block the 100 damage from a critter and not the super-awesome-instant-kill ability
    - assuming only a single opponent that attacks once every 2seconds the passive ability blocks on average 5% of the incoming damage. for every additional opponent or faster attack-rates the number becomes even lower.
  • the active part:
    - the activation in itself is strong, as you can time it exactly to soak up a huge blow, the problem is clearly with the fact that you can do so only every 1.5 minutes
    - any ability that you can only cast twice per reasonable engagement should make a huge impact
    - avoiding a single attack that you could likely dodge out of is not a huge impact, especially considering you can get the same effect by applying a blind (which generally goes for a 10-20sec cooldown on weapon skills)
    - the additional boon added via Inspired Virtue is to a degree canceled out by the initial ability. if the first hit is blocked completely the protection is ticking away while potentially nothing is damaging you that could be reduced in damage.
  • comparing this class defining virtue to three other skills at the guardians disposal you get the certain feeling that the virtue is actually the worst of them:
    Shield of Wrath – 45sec CD blocks the next 3 attacks, if the shield is not destroyed it blasts for 1.5k dmg
    “Retreat!” – 60sec CD gives 5 allies Aegis and 15sec Swiftness
    Signet of Judgment – passive: take 10% less damage / active: 30sec CD 5sec Retaliation to nearby allies
    Virtue of Courage – passive: take 1%-5% less damage / active: 90sec CD gives Aegis and 5sec Protection to nearby allies
    all the other abilities can in some fashion be used in multiple ways (Shield of Wrath defense and damage/combo finisher – “Retreat!” retreat or closing the gap – Signet of Judgment damage reduction or damage increase), only the Virtue is horribly one-dimensional and underpowered.

Staff: Wave of Wrath does not do enough damage . Signet of Swiftness worked great for that quick speed boost in PvP needed to chase someone down. Line of Warding is an excellent spell to keep people away from me, but the lack of being able to control where the line is thrown makes it to where it’s only effective when you are running away. I would really really appreciate it if Line of Warding were ground-targeted and had a shorter startup. As it is it’s very difficult to use for its intended purpose and I only ever found it useful as a combo field.

Greatsword: The basic attack is great, and the chaining might buff comes in handy. The whirlwind aoe is insane! When combined with Binding Blades and Leap it is crazy to large numbers of mobs. Leap is a great skill to use, but occasionally I would leap over my target, or I would leap a few feet in front of them, still inflicting the damage of it, but not leaping directly onto them. Binding Blades is also buggy, the spell would pull them into me without me even pressing the skill to pull them. 

Mace/Shield/Focus:  Combining mace and shield allows you to sit on the front line and defend against both ranged and melee attacks. Throw out a Shield of Judgement and you and your front line allies all take less damage too. This becomes even more effective when combined with the proper utility skills. Running with the Mace and Focus gives you the ability to go head to head against melee players. You have the melee block and the constant burning. 

I thought they were poor before I actually tried them. After trying them they are even worse. Not only are their effects unimpressive but their radius is tiny even with the trait to make them larger. These either need to get a radius buff(should be at least the same size as wells base and more like meteor shower size when traited) or they need to provide their benefits in an aura form centered on you.
the size of all symbols is by default very very small. the range of some symbols is less (120) than the range of most melee attacks (130).
even with the trait Writ of Exaltation all symbols centered around you barely encompass an opponent, so any ally – even in melee range – flanking the opponent would not benefit from the symbol.
the size of symbols is especially relevant as they apply only short duration boons that are constantly refreshed only by staying in the symbols area.

  • the minor traits promote symbol damage in a coherent fashion(#1 creates symbol at 25% hp #2 adds condition to symbols #3 buffs symbol damage)
  • the attributes of the traitline are power and condition duration which synergizes well with newly gained effect of the symbols applying conditions
  • the scope of the minor traits are unfortunately very narrow. sword, scepter, focus, torch, shield will gain virtually no benefit from the minors
  • the majors revolve around sprit weapons, greatswords and benefiting from burning. unfortunately it also harbors scepter traits
  • the minor traits promote conditions and their application via the justice virtue (#1 creates two conditions by activating justice #2 renews justice on kill #3 increases damage on conditioned foes)
  • the attributes of the traitline are precision and condition damage which don’t interact well with the minors. conditions don’t crit and the newly added condition via minor #1 does no damage
  • the majors revolve around signets and increasing critchance (with no way to capitalize on that crit rate though) and a bit of spirit weapons and burning
  • the minors promote endurance and empowerment via block (#1 Block @50% health #2 Courage (block) recharges on rally #3 gain might on block)
  • the attributes of the traitline are toughness (which interacts well with both the minors and majors of the line) and critical damage (which seems to be completely misplaced aside from a single major trait – Retributive Armor)
  • the majors revolve around Meditations, Shields and toughness boons that are applied to allies.
  • the attributes of the traitline are vitality and healing increase which is a good combination in itself and interacts well with the last two minors.
  • that the only trait benefiting from criticals is here in the traitline that is the least centered around crits leaves a sour aftertaste though.
  • the majors revolve around Shouts, Aegis and Symbols

breaks Battle Presence – once you improve your passive Resolve it’s not handed out to nearby allies anymore.

Zealous Blade (trait)
does not make your greatsword attacks heal you.

Meditation Mastery (trait)
does not affect Judge’s intervention and Smite Condition. (all other meditations are)

Sanctuary (utility skill)
is so small that in some cases it’s not preventing enemies from hitting the person right inside the dome with selected melee attacks.

Signet of Mercy (utility skill)
 activation seems to be nonfunctional at the moment.

Leap of Faith (#4 greatsword)
leaps over the target if activated from an elevated position.

Symbol of Protection (#1 hammer chain)
seems to have no noticeable interaction with Writ of Persistence.

Improved Spirit Weapon Duration (trait)
only increases the duration from 15sec to 20sec, not to 30sec as the trait advertises.
Perfect Inscriptions (trait)
does not update the “boon” tooltip for Signet of Judgment and Signet of Resolve – i couldn’t tell whether or not the actual damage reduction or condition removal is increased.
Renewed Focus (elite skill)
has a wrong cooldown listed (180sec), or a wrong cooldown (100sec).
Virtue of Courage (virtue)
s tooltip in the class mechanic bar still lists the passive Aegis as being applied every 30seconds.
Contemplation of Purity / Signet of Mercy / Judge’s Intervention (utility skills)
break stun when you activate them, but can then be canceled via dodge to only put them on a 5sec CD.
Shield of Absorption (#5 shield)
lists 4sec duration while the shield only lasts 2sec.
Orb of Wrath (#1 scepter)
travels along the ground, making it impossible to hit anything on a platform over jump-height even if the opponent and the guardian are in direct line of sight or on the same level. pathfinding seems to be an issue for hitting structures too.
Flashing Blade (#2 sword)
uses different position data for the teleport and the swordstrike/aoe-blind, which can lead to the ability dealing no damage and no blind being applied.


  1. Amazingly concise breakdown of everything.

    That I started reading this whilst in a lecture on statistics brought all the great detail on the numbers side of things right to the front.

    Good job mate.