Note: This build still works after patch 1.5, but there are now more options than before. Some choices below may now be suboptimal. Please use this guide as a rough concept blueprint for now - I’ll update it shortly.
Between the shrapnel nerf (which reverted piercing) and new items introduced in 1.3.1a, one may find new ground on which to build back towards sword&board setups; this particular build does rely much more on the “sword” part than the “board” part, but hopefully it still comes as a step in that direction.
Still, obligatory disclaimers!
Disclaimer: As 2038 progresses, much of the info in these guides is very likely to, or even bound to, not apply in the future. The purpose of these guides is to highlight how classes differ from their Global/SP counterparts, so as to provide leveling testers with more efficient ways to test later content.
Disclaimer #2: This build is an endgame build; it may be harder to level with it in mind, and it’s very point-intensive. Therefore, it is highly advised to use such AoE guns as Surgecasters to level more efficiently while working towards acquiring the gear that enables this build.
Why would one go for a sword&board build?
Flavor and RP aside, it is true that such builds often don’t offer as much as either dedicated tanks or dedicated damage-dealers; the former survive more, the latter (especially Gundians) come with more AoE DPS.
However, such builds can also offer unique gameplay, as well as (arguably) better single-target damage. Many tank-based builds tend to use debuffs such as Hamper and Denounce as well, so building around SoR and personal damage allows one to use such debuffs to aid one’s party while also taking full advantage of them themselves.
The norm of a damage-dealer Guardian should most often be Mythic Seraph pieces, with the following affix priority;
- “Heavenly” - the Mythic +damage affix.
- “Fearless”/etc - +All Attributes. STR and STA can of course also be used, but such builds do still need WILL for power and can use ACC for feeds.
- More +stats (ie STR/STA), OR “Bracing” or “Monolithic”/“Colossal” - % bonuses to HP and (total) armor respectively.
Tertiary affixes can be more +stats, +HP/shields, or whatever one prefers or needs.
However, since this build is based on the Bloodletter which is a slow sword, +melee attack speed has a visible effect on it, and thus total damage; Swordsman gear provides this property in various numbers, so one can replace some Seraph pieces with Swordsman ones with the above affixes.
The pieces that are worth considering over Seraphs should be torsos (4%), helmets (3%), legs (3%), and the Unique gloves Hattori’s Tekou (4%). The remaining pieces come with 1-2%, so they can be skipped for better options.
Other notable Unique pieces that provide +damage include the following.
Archangel Cincture - +damage, +physical damage.
Hands of Heaven - +damage, +physical damage, +damage to demons.
Jugalator’s Guards - +damage.
The one piece of armor that should be the hardest to get in its ideal form should be the helmet; +1 to all skills is absolutely essential, so it is much harder to get one with both it and the aforementioned affixes. Until one can get such a piece, one could use Uniques such as Angelic Visage and Face of the Crusader with this augment.
Bloodletter is the sword on which this build is based; this Holy Negotiator can drop from Dessy, and it boasts great base damage as well as DoT. It can also come with up to 3 points in Anchor, which this build does use for more damage output.
The ideal augments for this sword are “Divine” (+damage) and “Pummeling” (+physical damage), and mods can also follow this trend; unless one goes for a crit build (which is not currently advised), DoT does not receive the usual massive benefits of +elemental damage over plain +damage.
As for shields, one must use either Keeper of the North Star or The Merkabah; +1 to all skills is paramount for this build, and currently only those 2 shields provide it.
The former comes with higher armor values, thus benefiting Aura of Defense more (should one get it), while the latter comes with a shield value (that benefits Shield of Faith/Shield Wall) and Exploding Spikes. Thus, the former can provide more survivability while the latter can enable one to use Anchor, Challenge, and Shield Wall and have Spikes deal damage to attackers.
Trinkets and dyes
In terms of rings, Dreadnaught’s rings can provide useful +stats (ie STR/STA) while Fulcrum’s Scales can provide more +damage. In either case, it is highly advised that one gets 1 point in Stampede from either; Stampede is a great panic button and mobility utility, and acquiring it through gear saves one the point investment needed to reach it in the Shield tree.
As for dye kits, Black Knight is always a safe choice as it provides +AA. Alternatively, if one builds around +armor/TAV and Aura of Defense, one could use the Cold Steel dye kit instead.
Note #1: At the time of writing this guide the skill planner has not yet been updated. Proper skill level caps are detailed below.
Note #2: This build leaves 12 points to be invested as one wishes, accounts for the starting point in Shield Bash, and assumes that one uses a total of +2 to all skills (1 through a shield and 1 through a helmet) as well as a Bloodletter with +3 Anchor. It does not take into account potential rings, skill augments, or other pieces with +skills.
Spiritual Toughness - 8/8 (6+2)
Free STA; +hpb on armor and Aura of Renewal (should one get it) also benefit from this.
Shield of Faith and Shield Wall - 4/10 (2+2) and 3/10 (1+2)
Both great panic buttons, very useful to this build which lacks survivability by comparison.
Prayer of Healing - 3/10 (1+2) (upgrade accordingly)
One’s healing skill, it’s both instant and affects one’s party. Absolutely essential.
Sword of Reckoning - 10/10 (8+2)
The main damage skill of the build, spammable.
Hamper - 10/10 (8+2)
A very handy debuff for single targets, this skill decreases the enemy’s armor. One’s party can also benefit from this skill.
Denounce and Heavenly Condemnation - 5/5 (3+2) and 5/5 (3+2)
The former taunts a single enemy, while the latter augments it with an armor reduction debuff. This skill duo both allows one to serve as a tank and debuffs an enemy, allowing both the user and their party to deal more damage.
Anchor - 10/10 (5+2+3)
While this skill immobilizes the user, it also augments damage output significantly. It can be used in conjunction with Denounce and Shield Wall, and its effect benefits SoR.
Enhanced Strength and Stamina should be staple options, since they boost the main stats of the class. Further options depend on one’s tastes, gear, and overall gamestyle.
This leaves 12 skillpoints and 30 Expertise points to be spent as one wishes. Among others, one could do the following or any combination of them.
- Augment damage further; get Cruelty (+damage), Surgical Precision (+crit), and Affliction (+sfx strength) out of Expertises, get Prayer of Retribution as an extra offensive skill, and spend leftover points in a minimal Aura such as Deflection.
- Augment defense through HP; get the Regeneration Expertise (+hp regeneration), focus on +hp/hpb/STA on armor, and get Aura of Renewal.
- Augment defense through armor; get the Toughness Expertise (+armor), use more Swordsman gear, the Cold Steel dye kit, and Keeper of the North Star - those and other armor options can then allow one to use Aura of Defense more effectively.
- Augment defense and utility through shields and Auras; get the Impunity Expertise (+shield regeneration), use more Seraph pieces and The Merkabah, upgrade Shield of Faith and/or Shield Wall, and get such Auras as Deflection and Power.
- Augment a specific Aura of choice through Aura Stability; using a single Aura allows Stability to augment it to 130% of its normal power, so such Auras as Deflection benefit from such an approach.
- Acquire more utilities aimed at solo play; such skills as Challenge and Shield Turn/Shield Throw can enable more efficient solo play, and Throw specifically can make certain encounters easier.
It is of course noteworthy that one can also skip such skills as Hamper, or use more gear with +skills, to expand one’s options.
It’s equally noteworthy that one can use a cast set for such skills as Challenge; since the build uses +2 to all skills, a single +3 from a spare shield or sword can allow one to use it for solo play and switch back to the main set when needed. Conversely, one could get Challenge with points and use a cast set for Denounce, since Challenge is an AoE taunt while Denounce is single-target.
However, one should keep in mind that a Challenge cast set is easier to acquire than a Denounce set; Challenge requires 1 point in itself (for duration) and 5 in Provoke (for taunt strength) to work sufficiently, whereas Denounce requires 5 points in both itself (for taunt strength) and Heavenly Condemnation (for -armor).