I originally posted this on reddit earlier today (the first thing i have ever posted there) and had a lot of suggestions to move it to a forum so that it doesn't potentially disappear in case people would like to reference this build or the information inside. Aspects of this build come from many peoples builds posted both on this site and others. Everything here is based on how I choose to play my Guardian and my observations about threat and mob control and group support. I appreciate all feedback and comments and encourage discussion about this awesome class!
Observations on Aggro and Threat --- A Guardian that can control his surroundings (Build, Play-style, Guardcraft, and Tips)
Build can be found here!
**This build uses a somewhat different play style and may present a challenge for some. I highly reccomend reading this guide to understand the mechanics before you re-trait and jump straight into harms way!
--Aggro in GW2--
This is all speculation just based on my personal experiences and tinkering, I am most likely incorrect in several areas however I welcome any feedback you have!
General Threat (Most enemy mobs)
- These don't need much explanation - Proximity, Pull, DPS etc.
A lot of this is personal experience from playing a Guardian and making a build that will retain as much aggro as possible, while still being able to support a group. I have no way of substantially testing this other than observation
- Stat Threat: I have seen this most commonly on bosses or special dungeon mobs. I think in standard world PvE the only enemies with this sort of specific threat would probably be in events, which would make it somewhat difficult to see. Certain bosses and mobs in dungeons seem to take stats of the group as the largest contributing factor. One of the best examples of this that I have seen is the final boss of CoF. The ghost will typically target the player with the highest defensive stats and not leave him alone. In a situation like this there is no real pull threat since the event just triggers and the unique threat is programmed to single out a player that is supposed to play a specific role for their group. After doing 8 runs of CoF in a row and having the Ghost follow me for the entire encounter, a player leaving and being replaced with a Necro with extremely high defensive stats got the aggro from the ghost every time. It's easy to test this on different bosses by just comparing all your numbers with your party (since you cant inspect).
- Easy Target: This type of threat algorithm is what I build my Guardian around. Many enemies both in dungeons and world seem to build their initial threat by proximity and pull, and then within a certain radius finding both who is the biggest threat (DPS above, which makes sense) and who they can take out the fastest. In a lot of ways I think that Anet build dynamic threat like this to behave more like players, how when we go into a dungeon we mark either the mob with the most CC/DPS, or the mob we can take out very quick to decrease the number of enemies we have to fight.
- Event Related: This happens a little less often and is harder to really track, but in certain fights it seems like mobs will target people who are performing actions that relate specifically to the way you execute an event or boss fight (the person throwing the boulders in AC etc...) This one is sort of hard to verify though.
- Benefactor/Support: Because healing is very individualized in GW2 how much you heal other players doesn't seem to effect how much threat you draw. What does seem to effect it though is boon application. With many classes playing together this can level out and most likely falls to the bottom of how mobs calculate threat, but in playing as a Guardian, applying shouts and virtues to my team members has pulled aggro off of them and onto me before.
For those interested, this is the most effective way I have found to maintain aggro on enemies in a dungeon or event and still remain survivable. I have run all dungeons on story, and several paths on explore. I have a full exotic set specifically for this build as my main set, along with some items I will swap out for soloing, MF, or PvP. I find this build very fun and exciting to play, but it can be very challenging and definitely does not work in certain dungeons. It is somewhat effective for soloing, however it is extremely effective with allies nearby. You will know a Guardian in your party is built like this if you watch their health in the party window. During a fight my health can drop between 100% and 10% several times during the battle. It is pretty crazy to watch my health on my screen, so I can imagine people in my party always thinking either I suck or have crap gear. This healing and damage spiking is something that frequently helps maintain aggro.
I took many parts of this build from other ones, however I tried to modify aspects of it for the purpose of retaining aggro, doing damage and survival. I love the guardian because there are many different viable and unique builds to use.
Weapons: GS/Staff , Scepter/Focus during specific fights.
Precision Line (15):
- Virtue of Justice restoration on kill at 15 is a pretty significant part of this build when dealing with lots of trash mobs. Many dungeons have very few trash mobs or summoned adds to trigger this, making it less useful.
- The 10 point trait that I tend to pick is the signet cooldown because of using the signet heal, as it is the strongest self heal the guard has. Applying vulnerability on blind works.
- At 5 points the blind from VoJ is crucial for increasing survival, it has strong synergy with the 15 point trait, as well as the 10 point trait that inflicts vulnerability on blind (I don't find this too useful in a group but can be helpful solo).
Overall +150 precision helps to increase crit which is of moderate importance in my build and more of a personal preference. Increased condition duration is somewhat less important to me, as typically blind gets used up before it runs out, but nice to have.
Toughness Line (30):
- 30 points into valor is less about increased toughness and much more about the 2 abilities available at 30 points. If you are not soloing (and most times even if you are) Altruistic Healing is the crux of this build. By using this trait (along with others mentioned later) about 90 percent of the skills (including weapon skills and virtues) on your bar will heal you, most instantly and without significantly long cooldowns when used appropriately. By nature Altruistic Healing has a fairly low base healing rate at 80, therefore healing power is very important in the gear that is chosen. While healing power doesn't scale with this trait as well as others (I.E. Monks Focus in the same slot) the number of allies near you, as well as the slot skills and weapon abilities more than make up for the scaling.
- 20 points I use for adding 5% of toughness to precision, it isn't a big increase however it does improve the chances for critical hits.
- 10 points is used for purity, removing a condition every 10 seconds. The signet passive does the same thing, however there may be times when you are using the active as soon its off CD, giving you no time to remove conditions. Be forewarned, this build has minimal condition removal, I tend to go into groups and make sure that if there isn't another player who can pull them off me, then I have to change my typical skill bar choices.
- Out of the 5, 15, and 25 traits they are all nice little perks to have. Everyone knows that Aegis kicks ass, Aegis at 50% can save your life. Unless I need the heal (more on that later) Virtue of Courage is reserved for saving a team mate, or ensuring a complete rez. VoC has a long cooldown, and should avoid being spammed whenever it is up like VoJ. The only time you will ever block with this build is with Aegis for the most part, so the 25 point trait is not much to write home about. I try my best to not go down, therefore I don't do much rallying.
The points you put into toughness help in not taking damage, but their main use is to give you the ability to constantly heal yourself with Altruistic Healing. Without this the build just does not work. I wear almost no gear with toughness on it for multiple reasons. If you are trying to maintain constant aggro, there are many mobs that will look for the easiest player to kill. The threat is based off of numbers, but mob threat in many ways does not take into account various trait attributes. If mobs knew that the more players around me = increased healing, they would go for a few quick kills on squishies to reduce my survival chances. Typically in groups with this build I have the lowest HP, and in many cases I have the lowest armor, however I am the only person who is able to go from a near death situation to full health without worrying about a survival skill being on cooldown.
Vitality Line (20):
- 20 points gives you 20% cooldown on 2h weapons. The build works best for supporting and maintaining aggro with a staff and a GS from all the different weapon combos I have tried. While 20% is small on some of these skills, basically you are getting a 20% cooldown on multiple abilities that will give a decent heal (enough to counter 1 or 2 hard hits in many cases). The only time I switch this and the 10 pt. trait out are when group heals are needed in a big way. All symbols heal and symbols are larger can dramatically improve group survival rate with enough healing power, however you will reduce your own while still maintaining a similar threat ratio.
- 10 points gets you shout cooldown reduction. Shouts are your burst heals in this build, not only do they help you and your allies, but they increase enemy hostility (or seem to in many cases), they heal you through Altruistic Healing as well. The biggest downside to shouts is their range. If you don't stand in a good spot while you tank, your ranged party members wont receive your boons, and in turn you wont get the extra healing. 3 of the shouts apply 2 boons to you and your party. With Altruistic Healing you get a heal for each boon applied to yourself as well as to each party member. In a group of 5 people 1 shout will heal you 10 times if everyone gets the benefit. Each heal will vary based on your healing power, with my current gear i get healed for about 92 damage per boon with altruistic healing. If 1 shout hits everyone that's an instant 920 damage heal. While 920 does not seem large, it has high synergy with other boons and the activity involved in combat.
- 5 and 15 point skills give you frequent vigor with a higher crit rating, and the ability to heal with your dodge. This not only helps with giving a quick boost to allies HP, but makes a big difference in combat when you actually need to lose aggro quick for a large heal or group buff with your staff. Vigor = More dodge = More heals = More survival.
Shouts are the best way for a Guardian to apply boons, which are what makes this build function in any sort of capacity. They have decent cool downs and apply multiple boons. Greatsword and Staff give you essential skills for survival, enemy management, support and damage, therefore the 2h CD reduction is very valuable.
*Edit notes: I have had some suggestions of trying Empowering Might instead of 2h cooldowns and using a 1h sword for more attack speed to yield crits which grant might and therefore heal. I haven't run a full dungeon with it yet but it is very effective. EM has a range very similar to a shout which is something important to consider. In addition I feel using a GS gives more overall control, EM paired with a GS and high crit rating used in a symbol could potentially give 1-9 stacks of might on your party per enemy you are critting on, each counting as a boon heal. On the other hand EM does not grant you might, only nearby party members, therefore it's effectiveness while soloing or outside of range of your party becomes somewhat reduced. Still worth a try though!
Virtues Line (5)
- 5 points is all I have to spare. I love the virtues line, I ran with it between 20-30 pts. frequently and loved the reduced CD on virtues, and the massive boon duration increase. Great condition removal, and support with consecrations make this line have all sorts of uses, but this build only needs one thing and that's boons. 5 points in virtues makes each virtue apply another boon in addition to the base effect. While Aegis is technically the only virtue active that will show up with boons, the virtue of justice burning buff, and the regeneration granted by virtue of resolve seem to count as boons with regard to Altruistic Healing. These 5 points essentially double the self-heal value of each of your virtues.
----TLDR: TOO MUCH TRAIT INFO----
This build makes you a heavy armor squishy with high dps so you maintain aggro by being both weak defensively (only in stats) and powerful offensively which mobs seem to flock towards. What mobs don't know is that everything you do will heal you, so you seem like a an easy and dangerous target all the time, when in fact you are not easy but definitely dangerous. Shouts heal you, virtues heal you, weapon skills heal you, your health will bounce between 15% and 100% multiple times at high frequency during a fight and your party will think you are insane.
I don't have perfect stats for this build and I constantly tweak my runes. In gw2 for the most part you can't just stack one thing and become super OP, there are trade-offs. Healing power is good for this build, but if you went full heals you would be lacking in crit chance and damage, which can help a great deal. As a general rule of thumb...
Healing Power > Power > Precision > Crit Dmg. > Vitality > Toughness > Condition Damage.
Rune specific buffs (regen duration is very nice for example) usually tend to fall right after power for me. The only to find out which stats you need to focus on is by trying out different combinations. More vitality or toughness may be helpful to make playing this build more manageable, however it also decreases the chances you will be the primary topic of discussion among enemy mobs.
Runes and Sigils:
- On my GS I run with a 10% chance on crit for quickness symbol. Guardians only get quickness from one of the Tome elite skills, and even then you don't have much of an opportunity to use it as you have the Tome skills up. Since precision is relatively high in this build, you crit fairly often, especially in large groups. Since many weapon skills on both the GS and Staff provide you with constant heals during combat, triggering quickness can refill your HP very quickly and increase damage and threat even more.
- On the staff I like to use a rune that has an effect on weapon swap, mainly endurance regeneration because of the increased mobility, and the fact that taking out your staff is when you will be trying to get OUT of combat for a moment. Sigils with stacks tend to be hard to stack in a dungeon, however in many places solo (especially during events) the staff's wide AoE radius can net you 25 sigil stacks in less than a couple minutes.
- Play with your runes, their are lots of choices out there and you should run with what you like. I run with 3 Healing Power and 3 Crit Dmg, but change them often to see what works best.
While in essence you are tanking by trying to maintain threat, you are not really much of a tank. You have low HP and low Toughness, you make up for it in heals.
You start the fight!
- You should almost always initiate unless you are going to pull adds if you are in melee range where your target is standing. If you will pull adds, initiate by just walking within aggro of the first group and backing up. Pulling with your staff is not a good idea. This changes based on group and situation, but even if you don't pull I have found it pretty easy to take proximity/pull aggro off of group members.
- The Empower skill on the staff (4) is EXTREMELY strong in this build. The benefit to this skill prior to combat is 12 stacks of might. It is very important that this skill is used before combat starts so that you can switch back to it without the weapon swap cooldown immediately if need be.
- Don't overlap your blinds, know which ones do what.
- This build can be a brutal experience, you can drop to 10% health in about 5 seconds after engaging.
- Your HP - It will be like a yo-yo, know how and when mobs hit.
- Your Enemy - If you know how fast an enemy attacks, or how hard they hit. Time your skills around this to give yourself a safety net.
- Your party - Know if they are in range of your shouts
- Your Skills - Know what will get you out of trouble and when to use it
- Your Skill Timing - THIS IS BIG. I can't stress this enough, using symbol of wrath at the wrong time will make you dead
- When to GTFO - Know when to dodge out to heal, and let someone else take a couple of hits.
- Always Rez - If you want to maintain aggro you should be rezzing your allies as it draws a lot of attention. Protection, Aegis, Blindness, Regeneration, Stability, and Symbols all allow you to survive longer than most of your allies when attempting a rez. Symbols and shouts also do not break the rez and therefore allow you to heal yourself while rezzing a downed team mate.
- Weapon Swaps- You should apply 12 stacks of might from Empower either if you need a full heal, or if your group is kicking ass and you want to kick ass faster.
This build works because you heal yourself an obscene amount. Below is a list of every skill that will trigger a heal on you (and party if applicable) using this build. I will start with what I keep on my bar predominantly, but will include other skills which you may want to use. When describing the amount healed as a boon heal (I.E. 2 boon heals on active for VoJ) it is describing the number of times Altruistic Healing will trigger. So far I can't figure out what the exact formula is for Altruistic Healing is, but it varies by certain skills, it could be related too boon duration or type of boon.
@ 900 Healing power (can be tough to tell with weaponswaps and conditions/boons):
-most boon heals will heal for ~ 78-132 health per boon heal (10 boon heals could = 780-1320 heal)
-VoR passive heals for ~ 138 health per 3 seconds
-VoR active heals for ~ 2300 health instantly
-Regen boon heals for ~ 248 health per second
- Vigorous Precision - Grants Vigor for 1s on crit - 1 boon heal per crit (no noticeable internal CD)
- Selfless Daring - Dodge rolls heal - AoE heal on dodge ~ 350-415 @900 Healing Power, seems to be affected by distance from allies.
- Valorous Defense - Gain Aegis at 50% HP - Gain aegis and 1 boon heal
- Virtue of Justice - Grants VoJ Active and Might (3 stacks) to you and allies, each stack of might seems to count as a heal, however there may be an internal CD per skill, as spamming VoJ with lots of trash gets you much smaller heals, as in only 1 boon heal reduced by about 10% (I.E. 1st VoJ @900healing 1560 HP - 2nd VoJ within appx 2-5 seconds, 63 HP) - 4 boon heals on active (20 heals in party)
- Virtue of Resolve - Grants large group heal and Regen to you and allies - 1 Large heal, 1 Boon heal on active + passive regen (Large heal + 5 heals)
- Virtue of Courage - Grants Aegis and Protection to you and allies, also breaks stun - 2 boon heals + break stun (10 heals)
- Wrathful Strike (1) - 3rd hit of your auto attack grants might for 3s PER FOE YOU STRIKE - 1 boon heal per enemy hit
- Symbol of Wrath (2) - Grants retaliation in five 1 second stacks - 1 boon heal per second per person standing in symbol
- Whirling Wrath (3) - If performed in a Symbol of Wrath each condition removed seems to count as a boon heal - Hits 9x times (possible 9x boon heals from crit + condition removed per hit, per group member)
- Leap of Faith (4) - If performed from, in or through a Symbol of Wrath grants AoE retaliation - 1 boon heal per retaliation granted
- Binding Blade (5) - If performed in a Symbol of Wrath will remove conditions - 1 boon heal per condition removed (unlike whirling wrath, only will hit once)
- Orb of Light (2) - will heal on detonate, self heal if detonated immediately after cast
- Symbol of Swiftness (3) - grants swiftness for 8s, symbol lasts 4s and applies the boon about once per second, refreshing swiftness while standing still. - 1 boon heal per second per person in symbol
- Empower (4) - Tooltip is slightly off, Says 6 stacks of might for 8.5 seconds and empower channel is 4 seconds finished by an AoE heal. In practice the skill applies 3 stacks of might every second it is channeled and finishes with AoE heal meaning - 3+3+3+3 boon heals per ally + final heal (@900 Healing the final heal will heal me for almost 7k health) The channel + final heal can take you from near death to full health on a short cooldown, combined with blindness and aegis you can channel safely.
- Signet of Resolve - Base healing spell, large self heal on active
- Stand Your Ground - Grants Stability and Retaliation to you and nearby allies for 5s - 2 boon heals per person within shout range
- Hold The Line - Grants Protection(4s) and Regeneration(6s) - 2 boon heals per person within shout range + regeneration
- Save Yourselves - Grants 7 boons including protection and regeneration - 7 boon heals (only applied to you, havent been able to determine if removing friendly conditions grants a heal)
- Renewed Focus - Does not grant heal but grants invulnerability (condition damage still applies to you) for 3 seconds and resets virtue cooldowns. Best time to use this is when VoR is off CD, so you can Focus, pop VoR while invul for a large group heal, and then immediately pop again if group is in danger.
If you made it all the way to the end of this and found it interesting then I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Please let me know how you feel about this and your experiences with this build or others you have tried.
Happy Guarding everyone.
Terok Nor - Tarnished Coast Server
Edited by Sphynx87, 16 September 2012 - 04:44 AM.