my findings thus far (with mango pie and sharpening stones, greatsword, 48% crit chance, different mixture of armor than full knights):
I'm finding that solo or against a boss when my party is more spread out, I'm having a hard time healing enough to stay sitting there with my GS. I have to roll out and use empower almost on recharge sometimes. There is definitely an almost requirement of this build to get 3-4 mobs on you for it to heal enough. Breeders and burrows in AC are nice because hitting GS2 heals on like almost every strike from hatchlings, but up against colossus rumbulus when he focused on me I couldn't stay next to him, which I can on my shout heals hammer warrior.
However, when my whole party was in close (subject alpha in CoE), I never went below 75% hp while my party was at 35%-30% for most of the fight. GS4, spamming hold the line and signet of judgement gave me enough heals that I didn't have to pop an empower, didn't have to use elite, didn't even have to use save yourselves. Actually the build held up very well in CoE as the party I ran with had a thief, 2 sword mesmers and a flamethrower engineer that all stayed relatively close to me, giving me much better heals from SoJ and HtL. Definitely shines in very coordinated group play with a lot of short-range attackers.
Think I'm gonna pick up a hammer and give it a shot to see what happens. damage output will probably be a bit lower, but I think the extra protection over might from auto attack 3 with a similar crit rate will give me that little extra bit of survivability that I want. Although this might backfire as the hammer attack speed is lower, so I would crit less often, so I'd lose out on the vigor on crit heals.
Excellent write up and great feedback. You pretty much summed up the relative strengths/weaknesses of the build, namely: the self-healing scales with the number of mobs and/or allies near you (or both, to get the max effect), and as in any other game/RPG, anytime you can get a multiplier effect like this, you should take advantage of it.
This is of course a two-way street, and the buiild is weakest when solo against one mob as you note.
I just fought the AC bosses again a couple nights ago, and just like you, when up solo against the final bosses in Path 1 and 3, I have to stay on my toes and dodge/roll + empower often. On the other hand, it is SO much fun diving into the hordes of mobs prior to the end, and staying alive in a space where others fear to tread.
To me, this gives me a great variety (and thus more varied fun) on fights. Sometimes you have to roll/staff empower, and tactically manage your health for a 1:1 win through positioning and timing - other times you get to (need to?) stand there as an unstoppable hero in the middle of a host of enemies and brute force your way through.
Both are fun - and different enough for me to keep things from being exactly similar with every encounter. Fortunately, in GW2, there are plenty of encounters where there are lots of enemies attacking you at once - some of the Fractal instances are insane (in a fun way) in this regard, with 10+ enemies swarming you.
P.S. I, like many others following this thread, am looking forward to some Hammer feedback. I can't seem to rip myself away from my GS long enough to give Hammer a worthy test. So many others have asked though, that the curiosity will get the better of me and my GS.... Thanks for posting!
Edited by Venyarth, 04 December 2012 - 06:57 PM.