Tank it With Tactics. Mika’s (Revised) Guide to Being a Guardian
A long time ago, a Guardian Fighter was a massive part of a groups overall damage from the way Into the Fray was programmed. Long time players of PC and XBox will remember this time fondly when you could kill orcus in Castle Never within seconds with the right group (pre 4k runs). Right after the paladin’s perma-bubble was broke, we became more of a main tank rather than just a buffer. We had the ability to turn a weak dungeon group running epic spiders into an elite mass of killing intent.
Then the fray nerf hit and the massive drop in the buff left many disapointed. Many high level GFs, myself included, would be capable of boosting everyones damage by crazy numbers, easily 200% with the right buffs going on before. Now at MAXIMUM we buff by 35% extra damage, which when you look at it as a whole, is still a huge buff, and *seems* to be “applied” at the end of the buffs.
So, enough dreaming of times when we could steamroll everything. Lets look at where we are now and what our primary roll is. First and foremost, there are still ALOT of buffs we can do for a group. Second, in every dungeon qeue that exists, we are designated as a tank, going a straight DPS conqueror is probably the last thing you should do. As such, you should focus more defensively in your setup, covered later. Finally, our damage may be less as a tactician, but as ARC keeps changing things (hopefully for the better, right?) our solo damage is now quite reasonable.
In dungeon runs, what makes it successful in the big picture? Some may say the dps is what makes a run successful because theyre the ones who are killing everything, right? Well, not entirely. Most DPS classes in each run, lets keep it reasonable and say that everyone is around a 2.5k character, will not do much damage by themselves. They have to rely on buffs from other characters to really do damage. Support is generally what makes a dungeon successful. If the tank is atleast decent, and the cleric or paladin are buffing and healing to the best of their abilities, the DPS classes can then make the most of their damage at this point. If the tank isnt good enough, the run will be very hard to complete with success.
This guide is made around what we have access to on Xbox One Neverwinter.
PC has more exclusive items and companions and PS4…. well I dont know what we have you don’t.
I am planning on taking an ingame video or two showing powers, boons, feats, and hopefully a couple quick samples of dungeon play for a general idea of how I play. Neverwinter has kept me very busy with my limited play time because of all the events they have had going on the last few months. Keep posted on this.
To start: I have made lots of changes both to Mika and this guide. Some of you may have been using the original, and not a whole has changed between that and this, its just neater and has some new information. If you’re making a guardian as a second or third character, you’ll likely have decent gear to transfer to it, but this won’t mean you can play better than the person who has been playing it from the beginning with a lower item level. I keep saying this, but experience is what matters most. After that you just work your way up.
The game is always changing. With class changes and new things like content, armor, companions, and artifacts I hope that anyone reading this will get a good idea of where to start and can make adjustments to what they need in their situation. I sincerely hope that by 3k item level you know your way around the class enough that you can make any adjustments yourself. If youre stuck on something, I get bored and check my emails, so comment and I’ll see it within a couple days.
Screenshots at the bottom
Any race can be made good. I liked the slight extra bonus’ human gave me in my case and I wont ever change it. Although I think dragonborn gives more to you…
In an ideal situation you’ll want constitution as the highest possible stat roll in the beginning. I feel strength is the next best stat to try and boost up but some may argue intelligence for the recharge speed or dexterity for a slight increase in base armor penetration or deflect (I used to be this way too). Constitution will give you HP and action point gain as a guardian while strength will increase your damage (no, we’re not trying to be hard hitters in dungeons) with stamina regen boost. These stats together can help your tanking abilities.
I feel that this will be my final change to feats, so don’t expect these to change unless something serious happens in a game update. somewhere.
3/3 toughness, HP, obvious
3/3 Strength focus. This will make the bonus’ given from strength a little more effective.
2/5 *(4/5) Action surge, AP from guarding attacks, dailies will help keep you alive.
3/3 Armor specialization, boosts effectiveness of AC and defense, mandatory
4/5 (5/5) Powerful attack, boost your damage (helps solo mostly)
5/5 Ubiquitous Shield, lessen combat advantage against you, mandatory
Human feat points are (x/x)
Paragons: Mandatory – SWORDMASTER
Ok, so maybe it isnt mandatory, but I prefer it over iron vanguard as it serves our purposes a little better.
Crushing Pin 5/5 – enemies will take 10% more damage for 3 seconds when under the effects of one of your controlling powers. I learned a trick about this from another build a guildmate shared on our FB page. The artifact weapon offhand with the guarded assault bonus (with guarded assault being used in your powers) will trigger this effect on enemies.
Fight on 5/5 – 10% recharge speed
Daunting challenge 5/5: Your marks reduce the damage ALLIES take by 10%
Inspiring Leader 5/5 – Boosts fray by 5%
Now heres where I’m torn, surging tide is nice because it reduces the amount of physical damage you can take by an enemy hit with tide of iron by 10% but I can’t help but feel like it isn’t as useful as it sounds.
Having said that, I still feel that our best choice to get to our finale (martial mastery) is still surging tide
so go with surging tide 5/5 and finish off the tactician path with MM
Now with our remaining 15 points i scattered them across the protectors tree.
I’m going to suggest using:
Armor of bahamut 5/5
Staying power 5/5
and finally Unshakeable line 5/5
Armor of Bahamut will decrease damage you take when your less than 30% stamina by 10%
Staying power will make enemies hit by WMS 10% more vulnerable to your encounter powers
Unshakeable line will regen your stamina 10% faster per ally with in range of its effect
I recommend getting 4/4 points in Into the Fray first.
After that I would recommend starting with fighters recovery, then weapon master strike, knights valor, and finally commanders strike. All powers you use regularly you will want to get to 4 but I feel with these you can get the best start possible.
I never change Atwills any more, theyre constant at weapon master strike and tide of iron. Crushing surge or cleave are decent attacks but I dont really use them anymore or at all.
Knights valor is a power you only have to activate. You use it once, and you see a blue glow around you and it will stay active until you get stunned or go down. If you just go flying through the air (the game calls this prone) it will stay active. In demogorgon, when you get fully “stunned” and cant use any encounters, valor will stay active and you wont be able to turn it off. Sometimes in dungeons, KV will keep you “in combat” even when you’re technically out of combat (everythings dead) so if no one opens those doors for you, just turn it off real quick and reactivate it ASAP.
Class features (also called actives), I tend to keep on guarded assault and generally switch between shield warriors wrath (solo play mostly), enhanced mark (groups), or combat supioriority (situational).
BUT! do NOT overlook shield talent. As a beginner this may save your life (or maybe just your stamina).
Steel defense could also serve its purpose to save your life for a short period of time… but I don’t like it anymore. Past experiences with it is that while it is in effect, any damage taken wouldn’t refill my AP (probably because you don’t take any damage?). Also, some guild members that had been using it say it doesnt seem to always work…
I recommend villains menace as it makes you immune to any control effect and increases damage resistance, although not very notceable in a dungeon, for solo play you see an increase in damage.
Fighters recovery is a big one. Think lifesteal. Now think lifesteal with 100% chance. This is fighters recovery. ANY damage you deal will heal you, I like guarded assault with this because the enemy will try to hurt you, but you hurt them, and heal off of it for more than they hit you for. VERY important in dungeons as the healer of the group might have their hands full with the dps or trying to get away from enemies, or maybe he just died because of an AoE? Who knows… But hey, you don’t need to care that much now right?… Seriously though, if anyones dying for reasons other than stupidity, try doing something to draw aggro away from them. Mark the guys chasing him, use enforced threat instead of commanders strike, don’t just sit there and let them take it… because although they may try… that mob just killed them.
Now even though these 2 will be your go-to dailies, terrifying impact can do good damage when playing solo
Build that defense. Find everything you can to add to it or add to AC. Also, don’t worry so much about item level. Work on learning your class and getting comfortable with it and hopefully get in with an active guild that will group up with you to do dungeons with.
I stacked recovery 2nd, and everything else kind of falls into place. Regeneration isnt a very important stat but some armor pieces have it that you will want. Try to build a little armor pen since getting the damage to the enemy is how you build threat up on them. Stones, or boulders, which would you find more threatening?
Most people will say 80% damage resistance is the cap max. after that you wont benefit. But PC guys with access to more tools than we do on console will say that is not taking into consideration that enemies will have 15% armor pen to begin with. So take it for what you will, but I feel this should not be overlooked and be followed. So in the end you want to shoot for as high as you can get in defense and stop or change things when you get around a 95% damage reistance, which to be honest, I only hit 75% right now when bonding stones are active.
I like using a dusk raid helm, dragonflight ward chestplate, dragonflight raid gauntlets, and dusk raid boots. this combination will give you the most HP and defense possible while in a group.
Weapons you can use which ever set you want, though the drowned set or twisted set would be my choices for now. The weapons in 10.5 seem good too but not sure if its worth the farming you have to do to get them and upgrade them.
Use the offhand artifacts power for guarded assault. This will proc our crushing pin tactician feat when you guard each hit while guarded assault is an active power aswell as slow most enemies a little.
The mainhand weapon artifact choice, either choose the stat for tide of iron, or weaponmaster strike.
Enchantments: I recommend silveries in offense and azures in defense. Eventually you may decide to switch to other enchantments for more or other stats but that your choice. You may want to use a few dark enchantments in offense to fill in some armor penetration.
DrAconic enchantments will actually give you good stats in offense slots. Arm pen power and recovery. This can be a good option to make up for a possible lack of Arm pen as you want to shoot for atleast 50% with 60% being ideal.
For armor enchantments, you have a few options. Theres a soulforge which pairs well with a complete Lathanders set, theres the “everyone uses it” negation enchantment (which actually is very good), or a shadowclad enchantment
For weapon enchantments, I recommend something like a plaguefire or terror, you want to debuff the enemies and when paired with WMS, these will hit most all enemies.
OR if you like running dungeons without enforced threat as a slotted power for commanders strike,or maybe your not very threatening to enemies, a lightning enchantment can help correct issues if youre not pulling aggro. at pure it also helps with power recharge speeds
Theres so many choices for artifacts and artifact equipment that it will make your head spin. Find ones that are cheap that will assist you in your situation. Generally try to find a balance of defensive and offensive artifacts without sacrificing alot
Waters of alahzad– recovery, defense, regen – not a bad artifact for right at the start
or lantern of revelation – crit, arm pen, combat advantage – Some extra offense with a nice Use power
Devoted sigil – power, defense, incoming heal – I think every build of every character could use this if they wanted
Scourge sigil – power, deflect, stamina – decent, but wouldnt be my “go-to” artifact for longterm
Bruenors helm – defense, lifesteal, incoming heal – you may end up using this as a stability artifact feeder eventually but is othwerwise still very usable
Guardian sigil – defense, deflect, aoe resist – good to keep I’d say
Hunters sigil – power, recovery, stamina – well now, those stats are pretty good if youre looking to build the offensive side a little.
Eye of Lathandar – defense, lifesteal, incoming heal – Worth it if you would like the set bonus (complete the set bonus with greater Lathandar belt and cloak)
For artifacts choose a combination of what you want and feel will work.
If you can get them, I would go for the guardians sigil, waters of elahzad, devoted sigil, and hunters sigil. These only cost time to get and all give nice stats. Waters and/or devoted sigil can easily be swapped for another artifact that has stats dealing with defense and/or recovery. If you can get an eye of lathander, you could use it in place of the waters of elahzad.
There are many other artifacts you can use but I’m just suggesting these as they’re free to get after spending a little time with other classes.
For neck and belt slots I recommend using a greater lathander’s cloak, and suggest a lathanders belt. I never looked at this closely until another guide pointed it out but the level 60 version of the lathanders belt will give you CON and DEX, but with a reduced amount of power, recovery, and defense. A greater belt will have more power, recovery, and defense but gives WIS and CHA.
Lvl 60 version of Lathanders belt
- +2 CON (2k HP, 2% APgain)
- +2 DEX (2% ArmPen, 2% AoE resist, 1%deflect)
- 460 power
- 300 recovery
- 300 defense
Lvl 70 version of Lathanders belt (Greater)
- +2 WIS (2% control bonus and resistance)
- +2 CHA (2%companion bonus and 2% combat advantage)
- 850 power
- 530 recovery
- 530 defense
About 400 defense is 1% damage resistance
about 200 recovery is 1% recharge speed
about 400 recovery is 1% AP gain
about 400 power is 1% damage increase
The old Lathanders belt would honestly be my preference given the stats are more in our favor over the greater version. Those numbers may look like a huge loss, but the gains to be had in our class stats can just as easily override any loss and could come out being better.
If you dont want the lathanders set bonus (which would still require the eye of lathander artifact) you could using a greater belt of constituition just as well.
You will want to use bonding stones in a companion. Get atleast rank 8’s and work from there. Any stat that is on a companion (like recovery, defense, or armor pen for example) will be applied to you during combat as a % of those stats. at all rank 8 stones, you get about 100% of the stats on yourself. Rank 10’s you’ll have about 200% of their stats. If you get higher ranked bonding stones, you would benefit more by having the higher ranked enchantments you make or buy on the companion you have summoned with the bonding stones.
Many options, I use:
Dread warrior, threat gain on hit – Awesome one to have.
rust monster, 5% damage reduction, stacks 3 times – good to have
blacksmith, reflect damage to attacker – cool to have
Yeti, no defensive buff, but you have a chance to deal more damage for a short time when taking a hit. – Cool to have
Sylph, 50% resistance to control effects… very nice, comes as an included companion from the knights of the feywild pack
Portal hound, 300 deflect… negligeable, but pretty good as a summoned companion. Ol’ faithful I guess. Also makes fighting Orcus in CN a bit easier as some of orcus’ attacks are single target it seems. My hound will often take a full hit while I take no damage right next to him. reasonable equipment slots.
A pretty good option as I have found from another guide, is the dancing shield. its also deflect chance, but as a summoned companion it has a pretty noticeable single target enemy debuff. it has 3 defense rune slots, BUT has 3 waist slots so some may not want to go this way due to availiability of good equipment for it. Portal hound isn’t much better for equipment but has a ring slot, neck slot, and waist slot.
As there are so many companion options, some have a poor “active bonus” but good powers if used as a summoned companion while others are reversed, good active bonus with poor summoned powers.
I suggest starting with a Dread Warrior
then pick up a companion for bonding stones, whether you want the portal hound, the dancing shield, or another companion of your choice.
finally, either a yeti or sylph
you can play around with other companions also
For a summoned companion: Find something you like, but try to avoid ones that use an offhand weapon (swordknots, icons, etc). I feel the best summoned companions to use with bonding stones have atleast one ring slot. Placing a “sudden” ring on your companion will multiply its effects on you with higher level bonding stones (higher than all rank 8s) and is the reason behind using companions with rings. Necks and belt items can be made from jewelcrafting and be personalized to become double slotted (one offense, one defense slot). This is one reason why I like the portal hound.
Active boost: A Lords armored polar bear, or leopard of chult Is what I would use, defense or recovery, unless you have access to a 4k mount power…
The recovery is a nice bonus but so is the defense. The polar bear will also grant you access to wanderers fortune
Leopard of Chult – Shephards devotion – Barbed, illuminated, and regal insignias, boost youre groups defense, deflect, and movement when you use a daily
Reanimated Destrier – champions return – illuminated, enlightened, enlightened insignias —Cheap, nearly a musthave for ALL classes, you heal 20% of you hp and stamina
Dawn (Unicorn) or a Lords armored polar bear, Feywild pack – Wanderers fortune… Better than any dragon hoard enchantments you can make. Can switch it to Gladiators Guile – swap the crescent for an enlightened insignia, move faster when youre stamina is full/near full and regen faster when its low.
Guard drake – Protectors comraderie – Your companion attacking will buff your defense and power
Giant spider (comes from a pack, forgot the name of it but includes the menzoberanzen renegade race in it) or dawn unicorn to use gladiators guile alongside wanderers fortune
If you have a giant spider you could leave the dawn unicorn as wanderers fortune and use this for gladiators guile.
Also the lesser mounts do have combinations that are similar to these mounts but weaker theres so many to look through that I cant tell you what to get, but its not too hard to look through the stable and find out what combination you need to make a certain bonus, write it down, and then look through what you got or can get to see if you can make it.
8) General use:
Use your shield when you see an enemy going for a swing at you. This will cause them to take more damage for a few seconds each time. In solo most enemies won’t hurt you much once you get set up reasonably but dungeons it will be necessary. Weaponmaster strike will deal good damage and spread some debuff if youre using an enchantment like the plaguefire.
8.1) Solo play:
Generally I will use anvil of doom still, into the Fray, and as a third you could use commanders strike, enforced threat, or bullcharge since its a fun power. There isnt a best power to use solo I feel, but as long as you can deal a good bit of damage quickly, anythings better than just atwills. When running solo your atwill will be weaponmaster strike mostly. Dailies can be terrifying impact, villains menace, or fighters recovery. This will all depend on what youre fighting as stronger enemies you may have to be able to heal yourself.
8.2) Group play (Dungeons and Trials):
In groups you will want to run straight into the enemies after marking the largest one (hopefully) and use enforced threat so they huddle around or towards you. Depending on what youre fighting you may want to rush in after popping fighters recovery or villains menace. All the healing effects you have at your disposal should keep you alive as long as youre not playing beyond your limits. Once you get familiar with the class it will become easier and easier. While using guarded assault, make sure you run in with your shield up as you can proc crushing pin (increases the damage they take by 10%, one of our tactician feats). Teammates should try to flank the enemies that will be huddling around you so all you have to do is focus on surviving those hits and holding aggro (keeping their attention). If they aren’t flanking or atleast fighting off to the side of the enemy, or theyre running in ahead of you, make sure they know you may not be able to keep them alive in this case.
Epic dungeons? Use knights valor, into the fray, and enforced threat or commanders strike. Guarded assault paired with your choice of shield talent or enhanced mark.If you’re feeling confident and want to see whatyou could do for damage, use shield warriors wrath or combat superiority as the 2nd choice.
As a newer GF, shield talent and guarded assault would provide maximum survivability.
Large scale events youre generally better off if you do not run with knights valor on, it causes lag.For instance, dragonflight or tiamat. Dragonflight, do not use it on green dragon (Oxuno) unless you want you game to turn into a picture slideshow. Swap it with another power of your choice in these cases.
For knights valor to not seriously injure or kill you, try to keep aggro on you. Boss fights tell groupmates to get around the other sides of them. Defender companions make it hard to keep aggro the entire time so pay attention to them, move next to them if its a reasonable spot, otherwise they may have to unsummon or change their companion.
If you go by the screenshots, I am sorry but some boons are now different. Some boon names are shortened.
The boons I have written in here, are the title (shortened), not what the boon gives.
Sharandar: fey warder, fey elusiveness, elven haste (fortitude could be used instead, though I like my AP gain), tranquility (or ferocity if you REALLY wanted to do a little bit more damage…), elven resolve (or if your stamina is well boosted, you could use elvish fury and play a little more dps-like…just a little..)
Dread ring: I went with the boons in the top rows, I decided to use rampaging madness in the end row
Icewind: I suggest weathering storm, chill (or warmth), thaw, cold shoulder, avalanche —These will depend on your artifact choices… Try to repurpose stats like stamina gain, incoming healing, and combat advantage if youre over 1000 in these as their value decreases greatly after this point. Other campaigns will cause similar struggles, but dont worry too much as these stats are minor.
Underdark: Vitality, regenesis (our crit chance is too low to begin with to make 1% crit worth it), ambush tactics (I still dont feel like regeneration is worth it), stamina, tenacity.
Tyranny: Claws, Shadow, Defense, Greed, revival — recommend 6th and 7th boon if you grind it out to be thirst, then grip… there isnt enough gain to be had for me to want to put more than one point into any single end teir boon for Tyranny
Maze engine: abyssal regen, influence, endurance, and lastly you could use displace fate if your low end, baleful clutch if you want to see your controlling effects be slightly stronger, or baphmets might if you feel like 2k crit is worth it for 6 seconds out of what seems to be a minute in between. I chose baleful clutch this time.
Elemental evil: tide, renewal, resiliance, Gale of retribution — I dont care for the 1k crit chance, but I despise boons or powers that mess with temporary recovery boosts. If you are trying to use ITF and right as you press it, it turns out its still on cooldown for a half second because your recovery boost ended, this could cause you to not get your shield back up in time for a boss swipe causing the flow of the fight to be interupted by you taking (possibly heavy) damage.
STORM KING…. Talk about a grind… Well a month later I still haven;t managed enough strength to grind out the final boon there but I am using: Demeanor, Hardy Constitution (could be switched with instincts depending on stat situation), Icy Wrath (see my rant from elemental evil — though you could use determination), and when I get there I will be using Glacial strength, followed by chill of winter (the other choices don’t seem to be better.)
I know I missed many things but I hope this helps people. Start small and build your character up, a fresh guardian won’t have the best of stats but by about 2500-2600 gear score you should start to notice that you can take some good hits for the group, survive, and buff well. With experience you will get used to what you should do.
Get a feel for your character by teaming up with some friends, who hopefully arent so geared up that there isnt any real use for your tanking abilities. start with dungeons like lostmauth, valindra, or malabogs and see how well you can tank in there. Then move up to epic spiders until you’re comfortable with that. Try not to skip cragmire or gray wolf den as those dungeons can be a very good test of your skills or help you learn where you need to improve. Finally, work your way up to orcus and when you can tank him without dying, you should have learned the most important aspects of your class by now and truly will be a valuable asset to a group, guild, or even alliance.