Dairyzeus’s Please don’t ask me to tank – A DPS build
Disclaimer (Please Read This)
First things first. If you couldn’t tell by the (hopefully viewed as humorous) title this build is not designed to tank. It CAN tank, if you bring along copious amounts of support, but it’s not designed for the tank/support/3 dps group. Ideally you’re aiming to fill a dps slot in a group.
This is an end game build (14k IL+) where the goal is to run with either a pally tank sharing aggro with you and an AC, an AC + DO cleric combo, or an AC DC + healer combo. In a perfect world you’ll get a pally tank and double clerics, but I know that won’t happen often.
Even though this is not a tank build, knowing how to tank will allow you to use this build to a greater potential. Most of our best DPS abilities generate threat and combined with our high damage you’ll still have tons of aggro even when running with another tank. With this build you will need to take hits to gain damage buffs while having significantly lower defense than your standard tank build. Knowing what to block, what to dodge, and when to attack are things you can only learn through experience and they’re arguably even more important for this setup than your standard tank setup.
This build will assume you know those things, if you don’t there are other great guides (that I myself read and used) out there that do a much better job explaining than I ever could.
Have I scared off all of you readers yet? No? Then on to the build.
Currently up to date for mod 11.5
Top choices are Half-Orc and Dragonborn. Top priority here is +2 Strength as a racial bonus. Since strength is our percent damage increase stat you’ll want as much as you can get. On top of +2 strength Half-Orc and Dragonborn both offer other great racial bonuses. The 5% crit severity from half-orc is a little better than the extra power and crit from dragonborn, but you can’t go wrong either way.
As mentioned above you’re looking to maximize strength. The starting roll with the highest strength is 16 (18 counting racial bonus).
As you level you’ll want to put points in strength and charisma (if you’re dragonborn put your extra bonus in CHA as well). For those that are not aware, combat advantage damage (assuming you have 100% combat advantage uptime) can be viewed the same as crit severity. The stats are additive if you crit and have combat advantage. Since our marks grant combat advantage you should almost always be able to benefit from combat advantage damage, and if you don’t have combat advantage, it’s your own fault XD
The reason I choose combat advantage damage over DEX for armor pen is that it’s easy enough to hit the armor pen cap using your companion and mount insignias. Also, 1 point in DEX = 1% resistance ignored = ~100 armor pen. Getting ~100 stats worth out of an ability point is pretty bad efficiency.
We’re aiming for full power/crit here so the vivified relic raid armor is ideal. You’ll definitely want the 3-piece set for the FBI/MSVA damage boost. There are a couple of options for the 4th piece though.
Jarl’s Gaze – In FBI/MSVA it can net you a large chunk of power as it’s now possible to get to 80% or higher everfrost resist. If you can remain at 100% crit chance while wearing this it’s a great choice.
Survivor’s wraps – These have some interesting implications for us. The final feat in the conqueror tree (reckless attacker) gives us a damage bonus and crit chance on being hit. Unfortunately on some bosses, you just don’t get hit often. Think dragon turtle, druffi, storvald (to a lesser extent if teammates drop ice on you), or the second boss in Spell Plague. Survivor’s wraps can be used to damage yourself and proc reckless attacker.
In addition, if you use a daily and back up a couple of steps then guard, you can also block the damage from survivor’s wraps and use that to proc the shield warrior’s wrath personal power. Most of the time these tricks are not needed, but they’re good to know. Running these also ensures you only need to run 90% crit chance as you’re guaranteed 10% from reckless attacker.
Also know that if you run the wraps, you’ll virtually never have AA on yourself as the wraps will keep it constantly stripped. The damage bonus from reckless attacker is more important, and you’ll still get power from AA through your companion, but you do lose a solid chunk of cleric power share and the defensive bonuses of AA when using these.
Orcus set hands down. Gives us +2 strength and a great dps boosting set bonus. If you can’t afford orcus, the strength belt + company cloak with strength on it is a decent alternative.
Maximum personal damage choice would be the relic set. It’s really easy to always trigger the offensive bonus at the start of the fight by using into the frey. If you go this route, you’ll need to make sure you finish your rotation (outlined at the end of the guide) before the 10 seconds for the offense bonus are up.
However, I personally like the Stronghold II set a lot more. Common misconception with these is that the buff only applies to people that have the weapons. In reality, the stronghold weapon bonus will be given to every player in the party regardless of what weapons they use. This makes them a constant 2% bonus for everyone, all the time. Assuming you can use the relic set perfectly, it’s the better choice. However, I feel like in real world scenarios stronghold weapons will give you more damage on average, and the damage bonus will always be up whenever you choose to unleash your large single target burst damage.
Both those weapons are pretty expensive, the best cheaper alternative is aboleth or fey. Aboleth is better, but has a weird bug where it causes enemies to jitter/dance obscuring their attack animations. As someone who will have threat a decent amount of time, you kind of need to see those animations, and so I dislike this set. Fey is a bit less damage than aboleth, and the ap gain is not really needed, but it’s better than having enemies spazzing out.
Mainhand bonus: definitely weapon master’s striker. WMS and crushing surge are our only at-wills we use, and the bonus for crushing surge is quite bad.
off-hand bonus: We switch between 3 different personal powers. Combat Superiority, Steel Grace, and Shield Warrior’s Wrath. Unfortunately, all of these have pretty bad off-hand bonuses. We don’t really want or need the extra threat from combat superiority. Steel Grace’s control resist is ok, but you shouldn’t have much problem with control resist when correctly using villain’s menace and blocking with your shield. Aggravating Strike (the stab move while your shield is up) does very little damage, so extra damage for it doesn’t really matter (you also should be avoiding blocking if you can).
Pick you favorite of the 3, it doesn’t really matter. Don’t waste any money on cubes of augmentation to unlock any of them though.
All the standard DPS rings work. I’ve always been partial to the rising power/crit underdark rings, but a brutality, or offensive FBI rings are great choices as well. I’d use any of these at the +5 variant over a different choice at +4.
I personally like the bloodstained shirt. Lifesteal is a pretty important stat for staying alive and we don’t get a ton of it when we have all +5 rings. This is a good place to get a large chunk at little cost. It also has more total stats than any other shirt available. If you’re dead set on getting as much power as possible then the warriors gemmed exquisite shirt is the right choice.
The warrior’s gemmed pants are about the only good option available. Don’t forget to reinforce both with greater everfrost kits as well.
You’ll need to have the wheel as your active artifact. Nothing out there can beat the wheel’s fire buff for a damage bonus. There are a few tricks to avoiding the clumsiness of the wheel. The biggest tip is to always jump forward, then right after you jump, pop your wheel in mid air. You’ll land directly in the fire bonus. Right after you land, you can cast ITF (or any other skill, or guard) to cancel out the weird waiting animation that the wheel has in order to get right back in the action. Once you get the hang of this you’ll lose virtually no combat time using your wheel. I’ve been using the wheel for so long that I actually lose more combat time from other artifacts.
It’s also nice to make an effort to go to a side and pop your wheel, so the other wheel users don’t pick up your non fire buffs. Make sure to
rage at remind the other wheel users to do the same.
you’re locked into using the orcus shard for the set bonus, no way out of that.
Next I think Eye of the Giant is easily the top choice as it gives 2000 total offensive stats plus HP and defense. It simply gives more useful stats than any other artifact in the game.
Lastly I’d say key of fragmented stars is the best choice, though GWF sigil is close, and all of the standard stuff like Thayan Book, Kessel Sphere, CW sigil, ect… are nearly as good.
We’re looking for power and crit so brutals in offense are definitely the way to go.
For defense you can either go for draconic (HP/Defense/Lifesteal) which will offer the best survivability and is my personal choice, or black Ice for extra assassin’s covenant damage even though the deflect from them is largely wasted in the “keeping you alive” category. If you have defense slots on your companion definitely go black ice, as the HP from draconics won’t transfer via bondings.
We’ve basically only got two good options: Vorpal and Feytouched. Vorpal is usuall a higher dps increase, but depending on your crit chance and how much crit severity you’re getting from other places, fey can be better. Fey is also hands down better for pvp if you’re into that. It’s also a better all around enchantment if you plan to have a tank loadout as it’s damage debuff on enemies is quite useful.
Unfortunately none of the proc based weapon enchants work well for us as we’re a very slow attack/proc based class.
Small exception for lightning. With mass pulls in something like MSP, EToS, or even CN hallways, lightning can do well. I personally don’t find these situations frequent enough to warrant switching weapon enchants mid dungeon though. Especially if you’re with a strong group that smashes through mobs anyways.
Short answer: it doesn’t matter.
After trying out a whole bunch of different enchants I never really felt like any made a significant difference. There are a bunch of solid choices though.
Barkshield – really good for hard-hitting mobs. My enchant of choice for places like FBI and MSVA. Those are also about the only places where I feel barkshield really makes a difference. Does not interfere with reckless attacker as you still get hit, even though you don’t take damage. If you’re using survivor wraps this enchant is basically pointless as the wraps will keep your barkshield stripped the entire dungeon.
Soulforged – For situations where barkshield is bad, soulforged is typically good. Covers those “oh shit” moments. Still I find that if I die surrounded by mobs I just revive and die again afterwards. Does have the benefit of being effective at the lesser rank, making it the cheapest option available.
Negation – Seems good because you’re not at the damage resist cap and you do take a lot of hits (in certain dungeons). However, I find all my missing damage resist is covered by the pallies and clerics I run with. The bonus recovery you get at trans level doesn’t do much as our base recovery is next to nothing. Still, a solid choice as it does help cover one of the short comings of the build (damage resist).
Quite frankly though, none of those enchants made a world of difference. Since they’re all pretty meh, I’ve started using a thunderhead. Not only do I look beautiful, but I sometimes stun mobs too. Some would say I look… Stunning. Sorry not sorry.
In general I took anything offensive over anything defensive.
Instead of pictures (I’m lazy/forgetful) here’s a link to my current build on the nwo uncensored character manager. Here you can see all the boons I’ve selected and my current gear and companions. Keep in mind the stats and percentages on here are not entirely accurate with my in game stats.
We’re going swordmaster. There’s 2 main reasons for this
- Weapon Master Strike – simply too good to pass up. It’s got a large aoe, great damage, and the 30% (capped) debuff for at-wills attached to it is amazing.
- Steel Grace – The 5% crit chance and deflect are solid, but the extra movement speed is amazing. You’ve got to remember with this build you’re not necessarily a “stand there and get pummeled” type of GF. Dodging big hits (think FBI boulders) is a much better tactic, and the speed from steel grace goes a long way towards that.
In general we’re just taking offensive feats over defensive feats. The main exception here is armor specialization. We take this over three extra points in action surge because
- it’s a great feat. According to the knowledge in this thread armor specialization feat, while the math on it is still a bit unknown it does add a solid amount of damage resist that doesn’t show up on our character sheet. Since we’ll definitely be under the defense cap on this build it’s a great choice
- Action surge, while it increase our action point gain, requires guarding. Guarding is something I try to avoid most of the time as every second you’re guarding is a second you’re losing dps.
The other thing to note is that the 1 point in grit is actually kind of important. As you’ll see in the next section, we’re taking a feat that gives us 15% more damage while we have temp hp. This makes any source of temp HP important, even if it’s minuscule like grit. Also, if any DO DCs are wandering by, we love sacred flame for this reason. I know it lowers your damage, but… please?
Things to note:
- Take Measure > Improved Vigor. You should definitely have at least 1 point in take measure for the small amount of temp HP every once in a while. It’s perfectly viable to put 1 point in Take Measure and 4 in Improved Vigor though. Honestly both skills are pretty bad and it doesn’t really matter where you put the 4 extra points.
- Staggering Challenge. You have to take this, and in single target fights you have to use knight’s challenge. If you’re aiming to do damage, knight’s challenge is your greatest tool. 10% extra damage on KC is a must. Griffon’s Wrath is also usually our best dps encounter and the extra damage on it can make it quite insane (more on that later).
- Staying power from the protector tree is another must have. It’s an uncapped debuff which means it’s a straight 10% dps boost to our encounters, and you’ll want to take this into account during combat to maximize your damage.
- If you’re paying attention you’ll notice that picture is 5 points short. That’s because there are 3 options for those last 5 points, and they all have different merits:
- Fight On – This build will have practically 0 recovery when completely finished. As such Fight on is a good choice to make up for this weakness. Keep in mind though the goal of this build is to run with pallies and clerics who will reset your cooldowns for you.
- Crushing Pin – It’s a capped debuff, so loses some value in high debuff groups. However, outside of those BiS groups, this is the highest dps boosting feat you can take.
- Menacing Impact – 20% more damage for villains menace. The damage on villain’s menace is pretty low, but it’s the only daily I ever use. In the optimal group, neither crushing pin or fight on matter much, so this the only dps boosting option left for us.
Summoned companion: Con Artist/Sellsword/Rebel mercenary
The 10% uncapped debuff these get at the rare rank is without a doubt the best thing you can do to lower the amount of time you’re in a dungeon. Sellsword/Rebel Mercenary are better assuming you can get gear for them (due to an extra offense slot), otherwise con artist is pretty easy to gear with rings from FBI/MSVA. Even plus 4’s are solid as you can always use the defensive stats, though in the end you’ll want to ditch them for double offense if you can.
Air Archon – Nearly permanent 5% damage boost. Can’t be beat.
Siege Master – 4% damage boost. Almost as good as air archon.
Earth Archon – with the exception of some phases of Spell Plague Caverns I find I’m either at full health or dead, meaning the up-time on this is pretty good.
There’s a few choices for the last slot – Fire Archon, War Boar, or Erinyes
War boar is really good for single target as you should always have your target hard marked (R1 mark for PS4). It falls off a bit in aoe though as you likely won’t be able to keep up marks with enforced threat on everything, and enforced threat has a target cap of 10, so in large pulls you can’t even mark everything at once.
Erinyes can range anywhere from a 5% dps boost to as low as a 2.5% boost depending on how much crit severity you already have. If you’re running vorpal, popping crit severity food, are a half-orc, etc… then Erinyes probably isn’t the right choice.
I personally dislike fire archons as they lose a lot of damage in groups that have damage boosts at low health. In those groups enemies will drop super quick below half health meaning the fire archons up-time is really low. Since we ourselves use the orcus set the uptime on this guy can get pretty bad. You’d have to do the crit severity math to be sure, but erinyes should almost always be a better choice.
If you’re aiming to get a legendary mount, there’s no better choice than the lion. The active bonus is too good to give up.
The only active that’s close is tensor’s. However, when you factor in the cast time on tensor’s, and all the other stuff we have to do at the start of combat, trying to work tensor’s in will be a pain in the ass and most likely cause you to miss time your big encounter hit. Not saying it’s impossible to use well, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort, and the 4k recovery is largely pointless for this build.
The other big bonus for us is that you can use the lions active power to shield your temp HP. ITF gives us temp HP at the start of combat. If you can get your lion off before an enemy hits you, the shield from your lion will protect your temp HP keeping your 15% damage boost around longer.
Unless you’re in a crazy strong power share group, 4k power is probably your best DPS boosting equip power. Take note that it’s not 10% more damage. Power has relative increases in DPS depending on how much power you already have. In your standard end game power share group you’ll probably be around 200k or more power. At that point, 4k power is only about a 1.6% dps boost. Thus, if you’ve got the option, go for the lion first as the shield is far more important than and additional bit of power.
Since the 4k power is looking to be a pretty marginal increase in damage, you can instead opt to use your equip power to round out some other stats. Good options include:
- Life Steal – A really good stat for helping keep you alive. Using a 4k life steal power will likely put you around or past the 20% range. You should easily be able to constantly keep yourself topped off at that point without much help from support classes.
- Hit Points – If you feel comfortable with your life steal, then since we’re defense capped (with help from allies) HP is the next best thing you can stack to keep you alive. Also comes with the bonus of giving extra damage when running with a pally. Depending on your current HP, adding an additional 16k from a legendary mount can be almost as much of a dps boost as 4k power.
- Defense – If you don’t like relying on allies to provide your defense for you, a 4k defense mount can definitely get you a lot closer to the cap on your own. I don’t recommend this, but it is an option.
I’d take any of those options at the 4k (or the golden lions equip power) over a different one at 2k.
Mount Insignia Bonuses:
Gladiator’s Guile: Despite what some people think, moving fast is important (and fun!). A large part of increasing dps is positioning. Extra movement will help you position faster and allow you to stay in a good position longer before you have to move. Use it, love it, never leave home without it.
Protector’s Camaraderie and Friendship: Not only do these increase your power, but they also increase your defense. Both of these are things we need, so these are easy choices. The reason we go friendship over a second camaraderie is due to how insignia bonuses and diminishing returns work. Every duplicate bonus after the first is worth 25% of the original. This means a second camaraderie would only give you .75% per stack where as the first friendship will give you 1%.
Shepard’s Devotion: not a dps boosting bonus, but the defensive stats it gives can easily shore up the loss of defenses in our build. Scales off your buffed power, so ideally you’ll hit it after receiving AA, but it’s not a big enough concern to wait to use your daily for.
Assassin’s Covenant: a huge boost in power at the cost of our defense and lifesteal (and deflect, whatever). If you’re too scared of losing more defense you can opt for a second camaraderie instead, but it won’t give nearly as much power as this will.
Calvary’s Warning: Assuming you have a legendary mount it’s a good choice, but I like the above options better. At a finished build I’ll have capped crit, so as far as offensive stats go it’s only giving me power (remember we have no recovery to get boosted by this). Calvary’s Warning is calculated from base stats and has a duration of 15 seconds. When you factor in the uptime it’s only giving on average 2.5% of my base power (and defense) which is even less than a second camaraderie.
That being said, it does also increase defense and lifesteal which is helpful. It can also be argued the uptime is higher than 25% as you won’t be in combat the whole time your mount power is on cooldown. Still I find a second camaraderie to be a more consistent buff. I’m a fan of consistency when I have the choice.
Skills and Order of Operations
This is so important it gets its own fancy big header. Everything up to this point is just setup. You can be a fully maxed out 17k GF and if you don’t nail your self buffing and timing correctly you’ll still be a very sub par dps. I’m not claiming to be the best at pulling it off every time, but I do know what to do even if my implementation isn’t always flawless.
Stuff that never changes:
You will always run weapon master strike and crushing surge for at-wills. There’s a small misconception that WMS is always the best at-will even for single target. Crushing surge will definitely beat out WMS in single target assuming you still use a WMS every once in a while to keep its debuff up.
You will always run villain’s menace and fighters recovery for dailies (I only ever realistically use villains menace though). Fighter’s recovery is good to have on your bar, but I try very very hard to never need it.
You will always run combat superiority. With it feated in the conqueror tree the dps boost is just too good to give up.
Single Target Skills:
- Knights Challenge
- Single target DPS encounter of choice
You’ve got three good options for dps encounters Griffon’s, Kneebreaker, and Anvil of DOOOOM.
Which one you should use follows these general rules:
- Can you kill your opponent (or end the phase) in three hits of griffon’s? If so, use griffon’s.
- The triple Griffon’s combo has some truly amazing burst if you time it right (more on that later) It’s easily our hardest hitting encounter, with the downside that if the phase doesn’t end after you use it, you likely won’t get another combo off before the phase ends. To make maximum use of griffon’s you need all 3 charges. Waiting around to get all your charges back is too big of a loss over the other encounter options. This will also trigger crushing pin if you chose to use it.
- Is your opponent below half health? Use Anvil.
- If your team isn’t giving you enough burst for giffon’s to work, anvil is your best choice provided your opponent is below half health. Note that it’s not worthwhile to use anvil for a whole fight. If you’re in a boss where you can’t realistically switch skills halfway through, run kneebreaker for the whole thing. For stuff like the dragon turtle or Hati though, if you’re not using griffon’s, you should switch halfway through from kneebreaker to anvil.
- Griffon’s and Anvil won’t cover the scenario? Use kneebreaker.
- Just because this is listed last doesn’t mean it’s a bad skill, it just means there are situations where other skills can be better. Kneebreaker does some serious DPS and is our all around best damage skill. Because kneebreaker is a pretty long duration damage over time, it’s total dps is dependent on how many ticks actually land. This is another reason it’s important to switch to anvil below half health if you can. The upside to the DoT though is that it’ll give you more chances for lifesteal. This can be very useful in certain fights like hati, nostura, green dragon, or even demo. This will also trigger crushing pin if you chose to use it.
If you’re running with another GF who’s using ITF, you can simply run 2 of the 3 dps encounters instead of doubling up on ITF.
Shield Warriors Wrath is the top choice, especially if you’re using the survivor’s wrap trick to top off the boost nearly instantly. The 20% damage you can gain from this trumps everything else including steel blitz by a large margin.
If you don’t want to bother trying to balance SWW stacks, and the boss doesn’t require you to move around much, steel blitz is the highest dps choice. However, it’s not much of an overall dps boost.
Personally if I don’t feel like using SWW, I just stick with steel grace.
Single Target Combat:
It’s all about self buffing, and timing. You’ve got 1 hard-hitting encounter and you’ve got to make it count. Here’s the general idea:
Start the fight with a hard mark – it’s a 20% debuff for you and combat advantage, it’s duration is pretty good too so it should last until you’re ready.
Jump into your wheel and cast ITF to cancel the animation.
Use villain’s menace. If you’ve got survivor’s wraps on, take a step back and block for the shield warrior’s wrath charges as well.
Throw out a couple of weapon master strikes, you’ll need at least 1 for the staying power buff from your feats. Depending on how fast you did the first steps you might need to wait a second for clerics/pallies/cws/whatevers to get their buffs/debuffs applied anyways.
Pop on knight’s challenge and drop the hammer (the hammer is my… dps encounter).
In a really good buff group, and if the timing was right to line up all the buffs (communication can be key here), the fight is now over. If its not, then from here on out its crushing surge with a weapon master strike thrown in every once in a while for the debuff until your encounters come off cooldown.
Encounters will likely be a bit out of sync the rest of the fight. Keep ITF and your hard mark up at all times. Ideally you’ll want to try and line up knight’s challenge and your dps encounter, but it’s not always possible. At the very least you should always throw out a WMS for the staying power debuff before your dps encounter.
- Enforced Threat
- Line Breaker Assault
Enforced threat deals excellent damage in an instant large aoe. You also need to maintain some threat so that you can get hit for your reckless attacker stacks. The dance of the DPS guardian fighter is knowing how to get hit enough to maximize your damage, while not dying. It’s not an easy thing to master, but it is important.
I love line breakers assault for a few reasons. First, it’s one of our only skills with any aoe at all and it does decent damage. The biggest reasons though are that it’s a get out of jail free card and a stun. It’s an instant dash in whatever direction you’re targeting, I’ve said it before but I really cannot stress how important positioning is and this skill is a great positioning tool. It’s also got hard cc attached which is very underrated. Has a target cap of 5 so not great in large pulls (but none of our stuff is great in large pulls). Since most of our damage comes from weapon master strike and enforced threat, I find the utility of this skill makes it a great addition. Lastly troll bowling in FBI will become your new favorite activity right after Throne sledding long jump competitions.
If you don’t like line breakers assault, or are running with a GF who’s covering ITF for you then you can slot lunging strike. I personally don’t care for this skill all that much. I find it a bit cumbersome to line up and hit multiple enemies with the small aoe cone at the point of impact. You also have to have a target to be able to dash, so not always usable as an escape like linebreakers can be. The lunge range on this thing is huge though which can be nice. The damage is also almost as good as linebreakers.
Finally the last option for encounters if someone else is covering ITF is to slot one of your single target encounters. There’s usually a big guy per group of mobs and having some extra damage for them can be nice. My preference for these situations is anvil or griffon’s wrath as they’re better burst than kneebreaker is.
Steel Grace is pretty much king here. The extra movement speed is way too handy to give up. Again, steel blitz and shield warrior’s wrath are technically higher damage, but in reality without the speed to go mob to mob I think you’ll find you fall too far behind to benefit greatly from it.
Start with a mark on the biggest target followed by villain’s menace if you have it for the extra damage and damage resist. Weapon Master Strike for the staying power debuff on mobs, then an enforced threat. Don’t feel like you have to use line breakers on cool down. It’s often more valuable if you save it for a high impact moment or to save your life with a dodge. After that keep weapon master striking away and only use enforced threat once you put the staying power debuff on a mob.
Not much more to be said here. GFs in general struggle at AoE damage, so don’t be too surprised if you feel you’re lacking here.
I hope you enjoyed and found some information you were looking for. Please keep in mind there are a LOT of various degrees to which one can spec for dps as a guardian fighter. This, IMO, is the setup for the maximum damage potential at any cost to being a tank. It is simply the play style I found I like the most.
Because of this, this build is not for everyone. There are very good hybrid builds out there that will suit many of your needs and play styles better than this will.