GW2 Guardian Guide - Find Out Why Those Builds Work!
GW2 Guardian Guide
Guardian is one of the tanky, heavy armor professions. The name of this class and the artistic design suggest a heavily defensive skill set, focused on absorbing damage and protecting allies. With a proper setup, Guardians can definitely excel at that, but in fact, most of the meta GW2 Guardian builds adapt this profession to a DPS role that lets them smite enemies.
Guild Wars 2 Guardian Kit
Every Guild Wars 2 profession has some unique mechanics and skills. Now we’re going to take a look at Guardian Virtues, Symbols, Spirit Weapons, Wards, and Consecration Abilities.
The most important and unique Guardian mechanic is their Virtues. They are three extra skills that you always have access to, no matter what build you’re running. Each one of them has a passive effect that buffs the Guardian, but they can also be activated to grant bonuses to all nearby allies. While a Virtue is on cooldown, it doesn’t provide the passive effect. The three skills are:
Virtue of Justice – passive gives you a chance to inflict burning with every attack. Active makes all your nearby allies’ next attack inflict this condition. It’s a useful source of condi DPS.
Virtue of Resolve – its passive gives you the Rejuvenation effect that regenerates health. Active heals you and nearby allies.
Virtue of Courage – passively grants you the Aegis* effect every 20 seconds, upon activation all your nearby allies get that protective boon
*Aegis – blocks the next incoming attack
Guardian has access to some unique types of abilities. A lot of them are based on providing some AoE effects and utility. Symbols and Consecration Spells are placed on the ground and they can buff your allies or damage enemies over time. Wards are unique crowd control abilities that can be used to block passage by creating a wall or a ring that bounces the enemies trying to cross it.
Some other skills available to Guardians are Spirit Weapons – utility skills that summon ghostly weapons which can strike enemies or protect allies. Moreover, this profession has access to Meditations, Signets and Shouts.
Just like any other GW2 profession, Guardian has plenty of options in terms of choosing the weapon type. Of course, certain weapons fit better with some specific builds, but we’re going to talk about that later. All the weapons available to Guardians are:
Main hand: Mace, Sword, Scepter, Axe (only for the Firebrand elite specialization)
Off-hand: Focus, Shield, Torch
Two-handed: Greatsword, Hammer, Staff, Longbow (exclusive for the Dragonhunter elite specialization)
Specializations and traits
A huge portion of creating a perfect build is choosing the best specializations and traits. They can enhance certain parts of your skill set, make you excel at certain roles in the team environment or even give access to new weapons (elite specs only).
Every character can have three specializations equipped and only one of them can be elite. Each spec grants you six traits. Three minor ones are set in stone, but you get some wiggle room while choosing the remaining three major traits. The best way of explaining is showing an example of a specialization tree.
While building your Guardian you’ll have to choose three out of seven specializations. The core ones are Zeal, Radiance, Valor, Honor, and Virtues, while the Elites are Dragonhunter and Firebrand.
Zeal – this specialization is mostly focused around symbols, the minor traits make them apply vulnerability* and burning to enemies. It’s very popular in DPS and damage support builds, usually in combination with a greatsword.
As far as the major traits go, basically everyone uses Fiery Wrath for additional damage to burning foes. Zealous Blade for the synergy with greatswords and Symbolic Avenger for even more powerful Symbols. If you want to run Zeal without a greatsword you can always switch the second major trait to Binding Jeopardy for even more vulnerability or Kindled Zeal for more condition damage, that will work well with your ability to burn enemies.
*vulnerability – a condition that increases the amount of taken damage, it can stack up to 25%.
Radiance – this spec amplifies burning damage, critical hits and allows for inflicting blindness to enemies. It’s used in most of the Guardian DPS builds, especially the ones based on conditions damage.
The minor traits provide you with retaliation* and blinding enemies, extra power for your Virtue of Justice and increased crit chance against burning enemies. As for the major ones, Healer’s Retribution, Retribution, and Righteous Instincts give you a lot of retaliation and extra damage for power DPS. Radiant Fire and Amplified Wrath are great for condi DPS, since they empower the burning damage.
*retaliation – a boon that makes you deal damage to targets that attack you
Valor – a specialization focused on durability, damage mitigation and blocking attacks. Synergizes well with the Virtue of Courage, meditation skills and using shields. It’s rarely used in the meta builds, since most of them are geared towards DPS or damage support.
Your minor traits empower your Aegis and blocking. For the major ones you can consider Smiter’s Boon to remove conditions, Stalwart Defender for selfish tanking or Communal Defenses for more team protection. For the last slot take either Altruistic Healing for more supportive healing build or Monk’s Focus to give your team extra fury* which will help with DPS.
*fury – a boon that provides extra 20% critical chance
Honor – it’s probably the most supportive Guardian specialization. It’s focused on healing, dodging and has a great synergy with the Virtue of Resolve. It’s used in a lot of support Guardian builds.
All your minor traits are based around endurance* regeneration and healing. Most popular major combination is Invigorated Bulwark, Pure of Heart and Writ of Persistence since they give you plenty of extra healing. You can also consider Empowering Might for damage support and Pure of Voice in condition heavy instances.
*endurance – a resource bar that allows for dodging attacks
Virtues – as the name suggests – this specializations empowers your Virtues. Moreover, it offers some boosts to hammers and Consecrations and provides a lot of retaliation. It’s used quite often in power DPS builds.
Your minor traits will empower your virtues with extra boons that you cast on your allies, extra retaliation and bonus damage when you’re under the effect of a boon. Basically, all the meta build use Unscathed Contender, Virtue of Resolution and Permeating Wrath for a great mix of damage and utility. If you want to use a hammer, you might go for the Glacial Heart.
Dragonhunter – the first Guardian elite specialization, added in Heart of Thorns expansion. It gives you access to longbow, trap skills and replaces Virtues active skills with new ones (the passive effects remain the same). This spec is used in most of the strongest Power DPS builds, but you actually almost never use the longbow.
The builds are based on utilizing traps as well as the powerful new Virtue actives (mostly Spear of Justice). They grant you the ability to pull an enemy, give you an extra leap that also heals your enemies and provide you with an ability to create a wall that blocks incoming projectiles. Pretty much every meta build uses the same major traits: Piercing Light, Zealot’s Aggression and Big Game Hunter. They improve your traps and give you extra damage to enemies that are crippled and tethered by Spear of Justice.
Firebrand – the second Guardian elite spec, this one came with Path of Fire. It unlocks a new weapon type – axes, but most importantly it replaces the Virtue actives with Tomes. They introduce an interesting mechanic. After activating a tome, you lose access to your weapon skills and instead you get a new set of abilities, they are called chapters and they’re specific to the tome you used. This spec is often used in damage support and condi DPS builds.
Your minor traits grant you the quickness and the attribute extra attributes while under the effect of quickness. As for major traits, the first slot is either Unrelenting Criticism for more condi DPS with an axe, or Liberator’s Vow for other weapons and more supportive setup. In the second slot it’s either Stalwart Speed for more quickness and buffing allies, or Legendary Lore for more powerful Tomes. For the last one you can go for Loremaster to decrease Tomes cooldown and get the passive bonus at all times, or Quickfire for more burning damage.
GW2 Guardian Meta Builds
Now let’s take a look at some of the good Guardian builds for PvE and try to break down why they’re working. Since it’s more of a beginner’s guide, will focus on a build that works fine in open world encounters and dungeons. We're not going to talk about WvW or any other PvP setups, since it would make this guide twice as long.
Dragonhunter Greatsword Build
There are quite a few variants of this build. The one we’ll discuss uses Radiance, Virtues and Dragonhunter. It utilizes the powerful active Virtue Skills granted by the Dragonhunter. Virtues tree further empowers them and reduces their cooldown. Make sure to use your weapon skills like Symbol of Wrath, Whirling Wrath and Leap of Faith to optimize damage and mobility. You can also carry a longbow with you and weapon-swap when you need to pull some monsters from range, but in general the melee setup with greatsword offers more strength. Another option for secondary weapon set is scepter/focus. It provides access to some powerful weapon skills like Shield of Wrath and Ray of Judgment. Incorporating them into your rotation might be a bit challenging at first, but it's best to start practicing more complex combos as soon possible.
At the same time, Radiance synergizes with Virtues to constantly reapply burning on your enemies and gain lots of critical chance and damage as well as retaliation and the possibility of frequently refreshing Aegis. It all results in a strong DPS setup that’s not that difficult to execute. You just have to learn to optimize the uptime of the Aegis and retaliation boons. This setup can provide fairly high burst damage, but it also offers some survivability and defense. It's pretty engaging, but also rather easy to play. In the open world you'll even be able to auto attack some enemies to death. With a few small adjustments you can make this build viable in dungeons and fractals as a Guardian power DPS.
If you don’t have the Heart of Thorns and still want to play a similar style of build, you can switch Zeal in place of Dragonhunter. This way you’ll lose the access to the overpowered Virtue actives (most notably Spear of Justice), but it can still be a decent Greatsword setup.
As far as the skills go, weapon skills are predefined, so there’s not much to talk about. Litany of Wrath is a great healing skill, since it heals you based on the damage you’ll be dealing and that’s a lot. Bane Signet, “Stand Your Ground!” and Procession of Blades make for really good utility set. Dragon’s Maw is a great elite trap and definitely the best option in the final slot.
Firebrand Condi DPS Build
This build’s main point of power is spamming AoE burning damage on multiple enemies, but you can also inflict bleeding. Moreover, you can offer plenty of utility to your party with Aegis and condition removal. For the main weapon set, you’ll use axe and torch combo. The specializations used in this build are Radiance, Zeal, and Firebrand. The Path of Fire elite spec is necessary to use axes, Mantras and most importantly the powerful Tome mechanics. It can be used in more difficult dungeons, fractals and even raids.
Activating Tome of Justice replaces your weapon skills with five new spells and four of them inflict burning. It’s obviously empowered by the Radiance tree, especially the Amplified Wrath trait. You should spam your Tome of Justice and its chapters as much as possible. When it’s on cooldown, you should focus on still applying as many conditions as possible with your axe.
Now let’s talk about your non-weapon abilities. Utilize the Aegis from Mantra of Solace and use your condition removal spells when necessary. The same goes for breaking stuns with Mantra of Liberation. Sword of Justice can provide extra damage.
Unfortunately, this build can’t really be played without Path of Fire, since it relies so heavily on Tome of Justice. You could try replacing Firebrand with Virtues for a core version of the build, but it will heavily decrease its power. It might work in some easy locations, but we definitely don't recommend trying to join a raid boss party without the optimal setup, the same can be said about gear, including sigils and runes.
Firebrand Healer Build
Even though it utilizes similar specializations to the previous one, this build is much more geared towards defensive support play lets you heal your teammates. The standard version consists of Radiance, Honor, and Firebrand, but in this case, you could create a good core version with Valor, with a slightly different playstyle.
All your specializations are increasing your healing capabilities. Honor provides it with dodges, blocks and symbols. Radiance gives your heals extra retaliation, as well as improving signets and symbols. Firebrand gives you Tomes and Mantras, while also providing permanent (or almost permanent) quickness for you and your allies.
For the difficult fights, you’re going to use the Tome of Resolve, because it replaces your weapon skills with five healing spells. The fifth one – Eternal Oasis, increases the healing received by your allies, so remember to use it at the beginning of your rotation. Basically, all your other abilities are in some way healing, protecting or removing conditions from your allies. In most cases, the best Elite ability will again be the Mantra of Liberation. With this setup, Firebrand is one of the top support builds right now.
As we already mentioned, the core variant of this build runs Valor instead of Firebrand. It’s played more like a frontline protector with some healing. This version is not as strong of a healer but instead provides more Aegis.
GW2 Guardian Builds
As you can see, Guardian can fit in many different playstyles. You can fill different roles, depending on what your team needs, or what you feel like playing at the moment. Of course, depending on what kind of content you want to do, you might have to make some adjustments. That being said, the builds we discussed should be more than enough for a casual player to get through the open world content and most dungeons.
In general, Guardian is not the easiest profession to start your Guild Wars 2 adventure. At the same time, it's not the most difficult one either. With a little bit of experience in MMORPGs you'll probably learn a lot through the low levels gameplay. If you continue improving along the way, you can easily be ready to go for some parts of the endgame content after you're done with the campaign. Make sure to visit our website for more GW2 and other MMO content.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is a 2012 hit MMORPG developed by ArenaNet and published by NCSoft. It’s set 250 years after the event of its predecessor. The sequel taps much more into the genre, with things like a higher level cap, more dungeons and raids.
This time players can play non-human races, like Asura, Norn, Charr and Sylvari. You can also check out our site and find guides for the nine playable classes: Elementalist, Mesmer, Necromancer, Engineer, Ranger, Thief, Warrior, Revenant and Guardian that we talked about in this guide.