guardian_column Editorials

You Shall Not Pass – Fighting With One Hand

The first weapon you receive as a guardian is a simple mace, a cracked piece of metal on a stick that you wield to strike back at the dark forces that threaten your home. Even when you are face-to-face with Zhaitan in mortal combat, a guardian will always want a simple mace, scepter or sword ready for battle. One-handed weapons are your bread and butter, allowing you to mix damage, support, and control abilities with those of the off-handed weapons to match any situation you run into with a single item slot.

The Mace:

The mace is probably the most guardian-like weapon of the three one-handed weapons, as it primarily deals with healing, blocking, and regeneration with damage added to it. The skills by themselves don’t provide the greatest amount of support during a group fight, but for a solo guardian the combination of defense and offense in equal parts allows for surprising durability during combat with a good amount of damage.

Faithful Strike is the third attack in your main damage combo, and while it doesn’t restore a great deal of health, the area of effect is fairly large and it’s very consistent, so provided you’re engaged in combat you won’t have an issue staying healthy.

Symbol of Faith has two parts: the main effect and the combo field. Used by itself, Symbol of Faith is an area of effect that mitigates damage, punishes enemies, and regenerates allies. However, it is also a Light combo field, which grants a variety of defensive boons to anyone who uses a combo finisher in it. This is especially important to remember when looking at the third mace skill, Protector Strike.

Protector Strike is the third skill on the mace, and the most defensive skill on a one-handed weapon. Using the skill will slow you down for a short period, but during that time you will create a shield surrounding you in an area that will block any attacks that enter. This is followed by a counterattack that hits all enemies in an area, which by itself is a useful ability. However, should you not take damage during this time you’ll instead apply the Protection boon to nearby allies, and use a Whirl combo finisher. However, while you can use this to combo off your field from Symbol of Faith, the result isn’t particularly impressive or useful. It’s much more efficient to move into position with the shield to help your allies, rather than set up a small combo which might feel great for a moment, but in the long run won’t be helpful in a group fight.

The Sword:

The sword is the more damage oriented of the weapons, with a heavy emphasis on mobility and generally just being in the enemy’s face. The skills themselves don’t offer as much durability as the mace, but with some careful use and dodging the sword becomes perfect for dueling almost any enemy. However, and despite its many abilities that affect a group, the sword is more effective as a weapon against a single target as opposed to multiple enemies.

Sword Wave is the final part of your basic attack chain and actually has two different damage values possible. The attack itself functions by striking enemies in an area, so the value shown on the tooltip is actually the total damage dealt to the enemies hit. When fighting a single enemy, all the damage in the area is focused on that single target causing the damage to be equal to the shown number. However, and this is an important caveat, the damage is split when fighting multiple enemies so your damage output is not as great as it might seem initially.

Flashing Blade is probably the most useful skill available on a one-handed weapon, allowing the user to teleport a good distance towards the target, dealing damage and simultaneously blinding all other enemies in the area. While it doesn’t deal a great amount of damage, the blind is extremely potent, allowing for the complete negation of any one attack that is dealt. It’s especially effective against enemies such as the Giant in Nageling which can deal immense damage to attacking groups but, because of the very obvious telegraph before its attacks, can easily be blinded and the damage can be negated.

Zealot’s Defense is an interesting skill in multiple ways, and it unfortunately has a very limited use. It is one of the few ranged abilities available to guardians, but the projectiles that it sends out are not combo finishers and unable to gain any benefit from any allied fields. It also roots the user in place, but at the same time it absorbs incoming projectiles for the duration of the skill. Like Sword Wave, it’s a skill that’s best used on a single target because each individual projectile does not deal a great deal of damage. If brought out against an enemy that uses mostly ranged attacks, then it’s the perfect ability to counter incoming damage with the downside being that it gives the same opponent ample time to move farther out of range.

The Scepter:

The scepter is probably the least damage-oriented of the three weapons, focusing more on staying back and helping allies fight. It’s also the only truly ranged weapon that the guardian has, and all of the skills have very long ranges that allow for chasing enemies to be kept at a distance or chased enemies to be hunted down with greater ease. However, the scepter is not to be taken lightly just because at first glance it seems weak.

Orb of Wrath is the basic attack for the scepter. It has a very long range and a very fast attack time, which is balanced out by having possibly the slowest projectile in the game. It’s perfect against a slow or immobile enemy, but against a very mobile opponent more finesse (or lots of help) is required. Otherwise, there’s not much to say about the skill. It doesn’t even have a chain, just a single attack.

Smite is the second ability on the scepter and is the most damaging weapon skill the guardian has available. It deals damage in a large area, and each projectile, while not dealing a great deal of damage alone, does a massive amount of damage when combined. It also has a very long casting range, allowing for a good supplement of damage to allies who are already in combat. It also synergizes very well with the third scepter ability, Chains of Light. However, and this is an important thing to remember about the skill, it will not reach its full potential on a small target. Because of the nature of the skill, each projectile has its own hitbox, and as such it’s possible for someone in the area to avoid most of the damage simply by being lucky with their location. A target moving through the area will also be relatively safe, because it offers no slow or other way to keep an enemy constantly taking damage.

Chains of Light is a simple single-target immobilization skill, which in addition to completely stopping the movements of the enemy also applies a brief period of vulnerability to the target, giving allies in combat a much easier target to hit. In addition, because the target is immobilized it becomes significantly more vulnerable to Smite, which needs the target to stay within the area its affecting. It’s a simple, but very effective combo that can potentially destroy any enemy that gets hit by it.