Last week, I talked about the value or lack of value of balancing offense and defense in your SPvP builds to begin this series. This week, it’s time to start talking about how to build all-defensive, all-offensive, and balanced builds. I thought I’d start us off with a defensive build this week. In all of the SPvP I did throughout the weekend, I saw a lot of offensive and balanced builds, but no one seemed to be running defensive builds. I’ll admit, it doesn’t feel as rewarding as killing foes all match long. But, it’s nice looking at that victory screen and knowing you’re such a big part of that lead in points.
Picking a Profession
“They all have their own bunch of defensive skills…”
Everyone automatically associates “defensive” in GW2 with “guardian”. It’s even in the name: guardian. It guards. It’s defensive. But, what about the other seven professions? They all have their own bunch of defensive skills in addition to their healing skills. But, when you look at most of them (e.g., the warrior, the engineer), they really don’t have enough options to make more than one pure-defensive build. Now, the elementalist is worth mentioning. With all of the skills that vary with your attunement and the earth/water attunements, you can make quite the defensive build with a lot of variability. But, for the sake of going with everyone’s first thought, we’ll use the guardian. This will somewhat mimic the actual guardian build I used.
Picking Weapons and Skills
“…which are the most defensive?”
Now that we’ve picked our class, we need our weapon and slot skills. There’s a ton to choose from, so which are the most defensive? Since we’re going for defensive, the shield comes to mind. What does the shield have for us? In addition to the extra armor while we’re wearing it, the shield has two incredibly useful skills. The 4 skill lets us give ourselves and allies Protection with the added benefit of damaging enemies. The 5 skill is the really powerful one that pushes back enemies and absorbs projectiles. The big radius on the 5 skill is also a huge plus. So, the shield is in. Now, we need a main hand with it. The scepter doesn’t have anything really defensive except for an immobilize skill. Similarly, the sword has mostly offensive skills except for one block skill. The mace, however, is really nice for us. It’s got a heal at the end of the auto attack chain, a symbol with Regeneration and Burning, and a useful whirl that can combo with the symbol to remove conditions as well as can Knockback enemies and give Protection to us and allies. The mace/shield combo is in. But, let’s look at a nice two-hander as well. The greatsword is too offensive, so its out. This leaves us with the staff and the hammer. The staff gives us a swiftness symbol, a potential healing orb, a condition-absorb with multiple boons, and a wall of you-can’t-move-here. The hammer gives us a little offensive power, a symbol with Protection at the end of the auto attack chain, an immobilize AoE, a launch, and a circle of you-can’t-move-here. We’ll go with the hammer, since it gives us a more stuff.
“All of our skills are working toward one goal.”
Now that we’ve got our weapons down, it’s time to pick out the rest of our skills. We’ve got five to pick from, so let’s do the easy ones first. For the elite, we can choose to go with Renewed Focus or Tome of Courage. Renewed Focus sounds powerful at first, but the 3:135 duration-to-recharge ratio makes the Tome of Courage a much more attractive skill.. Now for the healing skills, we get three options. Since you’re on your own a lot in SPvP, we’ll rule out Healing Breeze. We’re going to use Signet of Resolve over Shelter, because the signet heals almost as much with a much faster recharge and a potentially more useful secondary mechanic. For utility skills, we’re immediately going to take Wall of Reflection. It’s got a GREAT duration-to-recharge ratio, and reflecting mechanics are great for protecting you and hurting them at the same time. We’re also going to take Sanctuary, because it’s a powerful skill. It’s a circle of you-can’t-move-hear, plus it stops projectiles, and then it also heals allies inside. The duration-to-recharge ratio could be better, but I’m okay with that when all of that power lasts for a whopping ten seconds. If you notice, both Sanctuary and Wall of Reflection are Consecration skills. For the sake of making better use of Consecration-boosting traits, let’s take a third Consecration. This leaves us Hallowed Ground or Purging Flames. I personally like Purging Flames, because it can remove the same conditions Hallowed Ground prevents with half the recharge and the added functionality of burning enemies. All of our skills are working toward one goal.
“…a lot of strong skills with big recharges, so anything that helps with that…”
Having a class and skill set is only half of making a build, so now we need traits. What kind of traits do we want? We’re obviously going to want to take a good bit of Valor and Honor to have more Toughness and Vitality. But, let’s look at our skills to get a better idea. We’ve got a lot of strong skills with big recharges, so anything that helps with that is a good thing (see note at bottom of article). Our utility skills are also all Consecrations, so we should look at things that help with those. This now puts us 10 points into Valor for a 20 percent recharge bonus on shield skills, 10 points into Honor for a 25 percent recharge bonus on our hammer skills, and 20 points into Virtues for a 20 percent recharge bonus on Consecrations as well as extended durations. Now, we have 30 more points to spend. Let’s do 10 of each into Valor and Honor, because we need more Toughness and Vitality. For Valor, let’s pick the 30 Toughness bonus to allies. Not only is it good for when we’re near allies, but it’s up more often on us than the 90 bonus while using a shield. For Honor, let’s pick the Shield of Absorption when you start reviving allies trait. Reviving allies can be really useful, especially when you can survive standing still for it. Better yet, Shield of Absorption is a powerful skill (the 5 skill on the shield), and getting to use it potentially much more often for free is a great thing. Now, we have 10 points left, and I’m going to put them into Virtues. At this point, I could take the extended duration on elite skills trait, but instead we’ll make our Consecrations ground-targeted. You’ll really be able to surprise your opponents when you can pop up your Sanctuary and Purging Flames anywhere around you.
Kitting Out With Equipment
“…we’re going to focus on anything with Vitality and Toughness…”
Now we have our build, but we still can’t go fight yet. We have to pick our equipment. Obviously, guardians wear heavy armor and we’re going to use a mace, shield, and hammer. But, we need to pick our sigils, runes, accessories, and jewels. Accessories and jewels are the easy parts, because we only have to pick raw stats without considering the other bonuses available to us. For this, we’re going to focus on anything with Vitality and Toughness, preferably with more of the former. Whenever we have the option after those three, we’ll want to pick Malice or Condition Damage. We don’t focus enough on boons or heals for Concetration and Healing to be useful, and most of what offensive ability we have is in burning. You’re not going to go on a rampage with this build, but at least having something you can use to help finish weak enemies is good. When it comes to runes, we’re going to go outfit all of our armor with Superior Runes of the Dolyak. It’s got more Toughness than Vitality, keeping the two roughly even between armor runes and accessories/jewels, as well as a constant health regeneration to add to our Virtue of Resolve. Lastly, we’re going to take a Sigil of Superior Energy on both our mace and hammer. This way, every time we switch weapons we get enough endurance for an entire extra dodge. Since putting two of them on the same weapon set is pointless (there’s an internal cooldown), we’ll pick a Sigil of Superior Hydromancy for the shield. Now, whenever you swap to the mace/shield set, you’ll also Chill nearby enemies. This slows down their attacks and their movements, letting you survive and control them more.
Playing the Build
“If an enemy is in the objective, literally shove them out and keep them out.”
The very last thing we need here is to go over the playstyle of the build we’ve now created. It’s going to be hard for anyone to actually kill you with all of the Toughness and Vitality you have and the surprising amount of dodging you’ll be able to do. But, you’re also not going to kill anyone on your own either. All standard SPvP advice applies, especially fighting only at/in objectives. You have a skill on both weapon sets to shove enemies away as well as one that triggers every time you start reviving a downed player. Then, you have a skill on the hammer as well as a utility skill that can restrict enemy movement. Use that to your advantage. Objectives are captured and held by occupying the capture area more than the enemy. If an enemy is in the objective, literally shove them out and keep them out. If you get hit with a lot of conditions, especially to kite you, use your Purging Flames to make it all go away. Use Wall of Reflection when enemies try to fight you at ranged, but try to make sure you catch their bigger skills with it when possible instead of simply wasting it against auto attacks. Save Tome of Courage for when things get real. It’s not going to save you from near death, but if you drop something long lasting like Sanctuary and then activate it when a bunch of enemies show up, it’ll certainly help you last longer. Otherwise, focus on staying alive and keeping the objectives the right color. When you see an enemy with low health, don’t hesitate to jump over and help get them down. If there are three enemies in the area, it’s much more useful to make that two than it is to keep pushing one or two of them away.
As a last bit, I want to explain how increasing recharge speed works. Take the original recharge length and divide it by the decimal form of 100% plus the increase rather than taking off that whatever percentage of it. That is, a 60-second recharge with a 25% increase in recharge speed recharges at 48 (60/1.25) seconds instead of 45 seconds. Here’s the recharge speed increase of this build’s major skills with their traits:
- Shield of Absorption - 33.3 seconds (6.7 sec. difference)
- Banish - 28 seconds (7 sec. difference)
- Ring of Warding - 36 seconds (9 sec. difference)
- Wall of Reflection - 25 seconds (5 sec. difference)
- Sanctuary - 100 seconds (20 sec. difference)
- Purging Flames - 33.3 seconds (6.7 sec. difference)
Skill and trait images created using the Luna Atra Skill Tool.