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Unselfish Tanky Hammer Build

guardian hammer tanky

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#1 TheKnox


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:15 AM

I've been messing around with several builds over the last several weeks in an attempt to get away from using a staff for swiftness in WvW and I came across something that I actually really liked as a pretty general purpose build.

It stacks up pretty well against an Altruistic Healing Hammer build in most respects, but since it doesn't use AH, you'll actually be helping your teammates more at the cost of some self sustain in some circumstances.

My starting point for comparison was the 0/0/30/30/10 Altruistic Hammer setup that is fairly common.

The build that I've been using looks like this:

Some keys parts of the build:

Symbols:  These are the main vehicle for your group support, both offensively and defensively.  You can make pretty good use of this build with any 2nd weapon set that you like, but I find both Mace and Greatsword to be the two most effective choices due to the symbols on those weapons.

Dodging:  Vigorous Precision, Selfless Daring, and Elusive Power all combine to make dodging extremely important in this setup.  You'll basically have permanent vigor which allows you to dodge frequently, heal your allies, and buff your DPS all at the same time.

Utility skills: These are extremely flexible.  You don't need to feel tied to things that buff allies since you're not relying on AH for healing in this build.  Feel free to grab whatever works for you in any given situation.  For random open world map completion, I'll run Save Yourselves, Retreat, and Judges Intervention, but for more serious content, I'll typically run something similar to the skills in the link above.

Critical Hits: These are not key in this build.  You'll want to crit often enough to proc Vigorous Precision every 8 seconds or so, but you don't need to stack crit to do good damage with this build. Power is your friend in this setup.  It makes you hit harder with all of your attacks, and makes your retaliation even more powerful.


Soldier's (Power/Toughness/Vitality) armor

Emerald Amulets, Rings, and Earrings.  I use a Soldier's Backpack with a Emerald Jewel as well.  (I'm more concerned with the extra crit chance than the extra crit damage that I'd get from Ruby Jewels)

Soldier's Hammer
I always carry a Berserker's Hammer as well for less scary content.
For your second weapon set, I like Staff, GS and Mace/Focus or Mace/Shield the most.  Scepter is helpful also.

Runes and sigils:

2 - Superior rune of Water
2 - Superior rune of the Monk
2 - Major rune of Sanctuary

Hammer: I prefer the Superior Sigil of Force, but there are several options that would work with this build.
Alternate Weapon Set: Whatever floats your boat depending on what you like to use for weapons.



15 points for Symbolic Exposure - Since you're cranking out symbols all over the place, you can basically keep up a 5 stack of vulnerability on a large group of mobs to boost your damage, and the damage of your teammates by 5%.  This also works wonders as a cover condition in WvW situations to help muddy the waters for your condition spamming friends.

II - Fiery Wrath - 10% extra damage against burning foes.  I prefer to take Fiery Wrath since you're able to keep burning up a large portion of the time, but in WvW, I'll often swap in the Falling damage trait.  If you really like the spirit weapons, you can take advantage of Spirit Weapon Mastery in this spot as well.


30 points - This is my personal favorite trait line.  All 3 of the minor traits are fabulous and work very well together.  We're looking to buff our symbols to provide support and damage to our teammates at the same time, so we take the following major traits:

III - Writ of Exaltation - Symbols are larger.  I find that having the larger symbols allows much more freedom of movement without leaving the comfy confines of your special place.  This one is more optional, and is the one I'm most likely to swap out for WvW (to pick up shout cooldowns).

VII - Writ of Persistence - Symbols last longer.  With the hammer, you're cranking out symbols every 4 seconds or so, and adding an additional 50% to the duration of those symbols is a massive damage boost as well as improving the support functions of the symbols.

X - Writ of the Merciful - Symbols Heal Allies.  This is where you make up the bulk of the gap in sustained healing compared to the Altruistic builds.  Not only do you heal yourself for about 135 per symbol tick, you'll also heal anyone who is smart enough to stand in them as well.


25 points to pick up Power of The Virtuous.  You're really only after the first 20 points, but since you'll basically have Protection, Vigor, and Retaliation up almost all of the time, PoTV is pretty much a flat 3% damage boost, and increases from there if you're getting additional boons from somewhere else.

VI - Master of Consecrations - Faster Cooldowns and longer lasting consecrations.  I swap this trait around pretty often depending on what I'm carrying for utility skills, but it's hard to beat Wall of reflection with this trait.  You can also use this with Purging flames to get 6 stacks of might up pretty much permanently.  When I'm carrying shouts instead of consecrations, I'll usually use Vengeful.  The Spirit Weapon trait is another viable choice for this slot for the times you need a shield etc.  

IX - Absolute Resolution - Improved Virtue of Resolve healing and Removes 3 conditions when triggered.  This is the other big survivability improvement over the AH builds.  You get a flat 26 extra healing per second at all times when your virtue isn't on cooldown, and you also get a 'burst' condition removal for your whole group.  I find that the passive 10 second removal from the signet does a good job of cleaning up the annoying conditions, and paired with this trait, you can now clean off the really dangerous ones on demand.

Some Numbers for the Math inclined:

You will basically have the following healing regardless of how many allies you have around you.
132 - Virtue of Resolve
135 - Writ of the Merciful
Total self healing - 267 HP/Sec

You will also provide 135 HP/Sec. to anyone standing in your symbols for up to an additional 540 HP/Sec to your group.  

Total Self + Group healing potential - 807 HP/Sec.

Compare this to the AH build with the following basic assumptions:

Vigorous Precision proces every 5 seconds on cooldown for 72/5 = 14.4 HP/Sec
Symbol of Protection 60% uptime for 72 * 0.6 = 43.2 HP/Sec for each person in the symbol
Empowering Might procs every 2 seconds for 72/2 = 36 HP/Sec for each person in range
Stand Your Ground used on cooldown every 24 seconds for 72*2/24 = 6 HP/Sec for each person in range
Hold the Line used on cooldown every 28 seconds for 72*2/28 = 5.143 HP/Sec for each person in range
Retreat used on cooldown every 48 seconds for 72*2/48 = 3 HP/Sec for each person in range

You can basically maintain the following healing output on yourself with those ideal conditions

Solo - 213
2 People - 306
3 People - 399
4 People - 493
5 People - 586

You can see that in ideal conditions, the AH build and the Symbol build are pretty close for self healing with 2 people in symbol range, and the AH build pulls away rapidly as you add additional bodies.  It is worth noting that when you include the potential contribution to OTHER players, the non-AH build does more total healing than the standard AH build.

The Symbol build gains the following flat damage bonuses.
10% to burning foes - Easily maintained through VoJ activation on single targets, roughly 50% uptime from solo passive procs
Roughly 5% thanks to Symbolic Exposure Vulnerability stacking
roughly 3-5% thanks to Power of the Virtuous (Protection, Vigor, Retaliation and Might are up a large part of the time even when solo)
10% from Elusive Power
Thanks to the additional Power, the Symbol build gains an additional 15 damage per retaliation proc (which should be up near 100%)

Using the simple Power adjusted Damage calculation, this build would end up with

Pow Prec CritDmg Crit% Multiplier
1910 1306 0.5 22.57% 1.112857143
1910 * Multiplier = 2125 * (1.05) * (1.05) * (1.04) * (1.1) = 2632
Health 17615
Armor 2919

Compare to the AH Build with Ruby Jewels x6, Berserker Shoulders/Gloves/Boots, and Knights gear everywhere else.  This build only gets the flat 10% elusive power flat damage bonus.

Pow Prec CritDmg Crit% Multiplier
1708 1696 1.04 41.14% 1.42783619
1708 * Multiplier = 2438 * (1.1) = 2634
Health 14095
Armor 3169

The damage numbers are very similar, but the Symbol Build also provides a 5% buff to anyone else attacking the targets in the symbols.  The additional scaling for the Symbol build also goes up as you add other boons and additional uptime on burning.

In short, this build is another approach to get personal results similar to the cookie cutter AH build with fairly good group support.  I'm pretty happy with the way it's been playing over the last several days, but I'd love to hear some thoughts from other people if they give it a shot.

#2 TheKnox


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 05:27 AM

A few additional thoughts:

If you go full glass cannon with Zerker/Ruby gear in every slot, the Symbol build starts to do quite a bit more damage than the AH build (thanks mostly to the flat scaling damage traits)

If you're using this in dungeons with a good group, you can probably manage to face tank things long enough for your group to kill the mobs.  If you're in with terrible pugs, odds are good that you'll have the most armor in your group and will end up tanking.  If you find that you're taking more heat than you can handle, you may be better off swapping in some Valk or Zerker gear to reduce your armor and try to let your teammates tank a bit more so you can support them.

#3 Serris


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

why take absolute resolution when putting it resolve on cooldown halves your hp/sec?

it seems interesting and i'll try it soon.

#4 Dimday


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:40 PM

Although it feels safe to say that your build does more healing on your allies then your standard Altruistic build does (assuming all allies can stay inside your Symbol AoE, which isn't always the case), you seem to have missed a couple of points in its favour. You seem to forget to take the fact that an Altruistic build grants might to all allies (although the fact that your build doesn't need help to do a blast fire combo does offset this a bit). You also don't mention the fact that your build is forced to take both Writ of Persistance and Writ of the Merciful, whereas an Altruistic build is able to take Two-Handed Mastery, which is super strong, or either of the Grandmaster traits. Another pro in favour of a shout focused Altruistic build is Soldier runes, which helps alleviate condition pressure on your party. Though Absolute Resolution helps cover this, it does affect your selfhealing quite a bit.

With that being said, it still seems like a cool build with potential. Nice to see something other then 30/30/10.

#5 Fyrby


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 06:13 PM

I have been playing with a similiar build a long time and must say it works very well.
Instead of getting 15 in zeal I chose to get the 20% signet cooldown reduction with 10 points in radiance. In Virtues i got only 20 so that i could use the remaining 10 points in Valor for a condition remove every 10 seconds.
Having Protection all the time up not only on you but your melee allys is very nice and the retaliation you get now and then is even better. In my opinion this build is very good at supporting other classes that fight in melee as warriors who lack healing and defense.
I am a big fan of Consecrations. I always had sanctuary, wall of reflection and purging flames on my bar. Against projectiles it works very good, but if you fight bosses usually they won't do anything, which is one of the reasons I started to try out other builds.
The only thing I miss using the hammer and not the greatsword is the ability to pull enemys together. Instead you get some great Utility with the hammer: a Ring-Ward an Imobilize and a strong Knockback.

Glad seeing an other HAMMER fan :)
Keep it up!


#6 indure


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 06:17 PM

Small things to consider:

You are giving up a grandmaster trait in Virtues for 3-5% team damage increase on target. Personally I find Indomitable Courage, Vengeful, and Consecrated Ground to be a better trade-off for team support than the 3-5% team damage increase, because in group content there are a lot of other classes that can stack vulnerability a lot better.

Is Writ of Persistence worth it? Your main symbol is Protection and that is only 3 seconds long. WoP gives a 50% increase, but that is just 1.5 seconds and 1 more proc of protection. You already have permanent protection with the hammer and even longer lasting permanent protection with 65% boon duration. Due you really need to make that value even longer lasting? IMO most of the other Honor traits would be a better investment for either your own personal use or for team support.

You also have ridiculously high +boon duration (+65%) and not that many boons. Hammer can output permanent protection with little investment already and provides no other boons (except finishers). GS also provides little boon support. Stand Your Ground only gains a 2 sec buff for the heavy investment, and your only other boons come from Virtues. I would seriously consider switching out your runes, using a weapon that is more boon support oriented (staff), or incorporate more shouts into your build.

PS: I understand from your post you change a lot of things on the fly so some of my suggestions are meaningless.

#7 TheKnox


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 09:30 PM

Addressing some of the points above:

The rune choices are completely optional, and you can certainly take soldier runes if you want to. I prefer the 40% boon duration increase because that allows me to keep swiftness up 100% of the time in WvW, which is why I was messing around with builds in the first place. I swap to retreat /save yourselves and pick the shout cooldown trait for open world WvW and zone completion.

As for the traits,  the larger symbol trait is certainly optional, and I regularly swap it out for the shout cooldown trait.

Writ of Persistence is kind of a key part of the build though. The extra symbol tick is a large damage increase for the hammer, in addition to the other benefits like extra protection and healing.  Using the numbers from the DPS thread,  you basically gain 12% damage by adding the extra symbol tick to the hammer chain.   Additionally, that adds an extra vulnerability stack. Two handed mastery isn't really a dps gain for the hammer, so the loss of that trait isn't a problem.

I do miss the empowering might, but I feel like the vulnerability is similar benefit to the group.

For condition removal, I find that the light combo field keeps me clean most of the time in group settings, and the VoJ activation is more used for cleansing allies.

For the use more shouts argument, I certainly do slot them for some things, but I don't see a huge benefit from hold the line, and the other two have cooldowns that are long enough to make them situational choices.

Edited by TheKnox, 04 January 2013 - 09:32 PM.

#8 TheKnox


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Posted 04 January 2013 - 11:38 PM

Absolute Resolution adds about 25 HP/sec which doesn't seem like much, but is equivalent to about 15% of the healing you get from your healing skill.

Activating the virtue gives about 67 HP/sec if you average it over the cooldown, but it heals 5 people instead of 1, so it's really a transfer of personal healing to group healing with condition removal tacked on.

#9 TheKnox


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Posted 02 February 2013 - 06:45 AM


After looking at the numbers, this actually does a pretty solid job as a DPS-centric build.

If you use, PVT gear for your Head/Chest/Legs, and Emerald Rings, with Ruby/Zerkers gear in every other slot and the Boon Duration runes, and slot Empowering Might instead of Writ of the Merciful, you'll put out very reasonable damage while keeping up protection, retaliation, and anywhere between 4-8 stacks of might on the group depending on the number of targets.

You'd still have the following stats:
Health 15615
Critical Chance 52.20%
Critical Damage 1.94

That should put out about 2650 DPS with those numbers, so not great, but certainly a decent contribution considering the other benefits you bring to the table (Protection/Retaliation/Vulnerability/Might).

Edited by TheKnox, 02 February 2013 - 07:56 AM.

#10 indure


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Posted 06 February 2013 - 05:46 PM

Is it worth it to switch 5 out from Power of The Virtuous for 5 in Zeal for Binding Jeopardy? Gives an additional 5 stacks of vulnerability for 8s and gives me a reason to use something besides 1 and 2 on the hammer.

#11 TheKnox


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Posted 06 February 2013 - 11:20 PM

You basically have retaliation, protection, vigor and might up full time, so you'd be trading 4%+ personal damage for an average of 1.667 stacks of vulnerability.  That drops to 0.8 stacks on a boss mob.

It is certainly an option, but I don't think it would matter much for damage output.

#12 indure


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Posted 07 February 2013 - 12:04 AM

View PostTheKnox, on 06 February 2013 - 11:20 PM, said:

You basically have retaliation, protection, vigor and might up full time, so you'd be trading 4%+ personal damage for an average of 1.667 stacks of vulnerability.  That drops to 0.8 stacks on a boss mob.

It is certainly an option, but I don't think it would matter much for damage output.


#13 GuanglaiKangyi


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Posted 07 February 2013 - 01:41 AM

Rather than taking WoM, you should take Purging Flames, Hallowed Ground, 2HM, and Master of Consecrations so you can might stack and give no shits.  You can get 2 MBs in one PF and 3 in a SG.  With boon duration runes and 25 in Virtues that adds up to approximately a shitton of might stacks.

#14 Skibba


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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:08 AM

View PostGuanglaiKangyi, on 07 February 2013 - 01:41 AM, said:

You can get 2 MBs in one PF and 3 in a SG.

2 x Mighty Blow can be cast during the up time of a single Purging Flame.

What is '3 in a SG' though?

#15 GuanglaiKangyi


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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:26 PM

I can't seem to fit 2 MBs into one Purging Flames without 2HM and MoC, if that's what you mean.  Might be the super long aftercast on symbol, though.

SG = Sallowed Ground.  Deal with it.

#16 Skibba


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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

View PostGuanglaiKangyi, on 07 February 2013 - 04:26 PM, said:

I can't seem to fit 2 MBs into one Purging Flames without 2HM and MoC, if that's what you mean.

Nope, was just clarifying what you said. That bit made sense to me, but it was the "3 in a SG" I couldn't decode.....

View PostGuanglaiKangyi, on 07 February 2013 - 04:26 PM, said:

SG = Sallowed Ground.  Deal with it.

.... now I see why ;)

#17 Heskey


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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:41 PM

Looking for a build myself and this looks like it might be right up my street.

If you're taking Absolute Resolution though, is there an argument for taking Battle Presence over say, Writ of Exaltation instead?

#18 TheKnox


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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:21 AM

When I posted this, battle presence was still bugged. You can certainly make a case for it now, but you will lose out on some personal healing.

#19 Heskey


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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:20 AM

My major reservation over a symbol build has always been that mobs might not group up, and unlike AH builds it relies on your party knowing to stand in your symbols to be healed - often the nature of a fight makes this difficult to do; especially for ranged classes who'd rather be as far away from the action as possible? In essence, symbols upon symbols sounds great; but it's heavily reliant on factors beyond your control which themselves are essential to its effectiveness?

Edited by Heskey, 10 February 2013 - 01:20 AM.

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