Writing too much about a single skill on a class everyone's playing: a guardian novel

Being both an avid tank/support player across MMOs and guardian being my first class created and to 50 in this game, I took some time to familiarize myself not only with the skills, but with not abusing renewal and defense to become a hulking wall of unkillable steel, as I’m an off-meta pseudoelitist and like to seek other methods of achieving similar results; one of such methods was the usage of aura of thorns while gleefully pulling every enemy within a football field, which at level 55 enemies I found out was suicide and had to turn on aura of defense as well to not instantly die. One of my methods to survive this onslaught without a fucking horrible death was, and you guessed it: shield wall. The plan was simple: mass taunt, shield wall to recharge shields, shield of faith to re-recharge shields, watch everything die to thorns; I think it was pretty dope and made actual use of a skill I didn’t really see many people use, though admittedly the low sampling of guardians at the time also affected my anecdotal evidence. As you can guess, I’m heavily biased against renewal, defense and power, and if I get told “you’re biased”, I’ll just say “yeah lol”.

On the skill itself (shield wall), recently it was changed to the following, as per 1.5.3b patch notes: “Decreased the shield bonus granted by Shield Wall. The skill now also grants an increasing shield recharge delay reduction per skill level.” One thing I will note is that the skill currently does not recharge shields, which I recall being a thing prior to the change and the lack of it is unmentioned in the patch notes, which can either be missing information or an unnoticed bug, as I haven’t seen any comments on it from the dev team. Here’s why I don’t really like it:

  • The guardian class is surrounded by a constant pressure to use an EHP aura (renewal and defense) due to the massive increase in survivability it gives against crowds of strong enemies that the guardian will be pulling because he’s a tank and that’s what tanks do. Shield wall was an okay skill that mitigated the shortcomings people had when opting to not use such auras by giving the guardian a lot of shields to tank a crowd with at the cost of not being able to do it all the time and being unable to attack with anything besides prayer of retribution (please make prayer of smiting work there, nobody already uses the bloody thing), which leads to the skill losing its appeal for those who wish to partake in fun things like aura of thorns and aura of vengeance, because my guardian eats power like a motherfucker and aura of power is almost mandatory, so that already makes two slots (EHP and power) for people who do more than sitting and spamming taunts.

  • The shield delay is… weird, to say the least. It’s a skill that, to me, is intended for use when under extreme enemy pressure, which means no time to make use of the reduced delay whatsoever: you jump into a crowd, use it, the crowd eventually dies and you will make no use of it because you’re stationary, are meant to take hits and moving will put you out of shield wall. There’s not a situation I can personally think of where it’s worth staying on shield wall to regen shields and fight an enemy that’s coming to damage you, though I will admit I haven’t explored all the content in the game and maybe there’s a fight somewhere that is exactly like this.

In the end, I think the lack of shield refill harms the off-meta guardian gameplay and the shield delay is anything but a fair trade for it by going directly against the guardian’s intended playstyle.

Roast me in the comments for playing with aura of thorns and prayers.

*: I almost forgot one thing: another option for shield wall would be to make it replenish only the amount of shields it increases when activated, then removing that amount once the player moves (to prevent its use as a second shield of faith, in case that was the reason for the change) and applying a debuff when activated that prevents the player from benefitting from the shield increase for the next 30-ish seconds, while still being able to use shield wall without cooldown to just hunker down and activate the reduced regen delay.

Bless your heart for this, got a great chuckle out of it. It caught me… off-guard, if you will.

To keep this response short and sweet, the Shield Wall change was generally received very poorly so it’s being reevaluated. For my part, I agree; I wouldn’t use it as it is now, while I always made sure to get it before (even if as a 1-point wonder).

To bring the Secret World Legends thing I mentioned in the Discord, this is how opening shot (shotgun buff) works:

  • When you use the skill, you and your team get buffed for a small amount of time with increased crit power.

  • The skill enters a cooldown of 20 seconds.

  • Upon use, you also get a 20-second debuff that prevents you from benefitting from that same skill for the debuff’s duration, which coincides with the cooldown and thus affects solo players none.

  • For group play, it prevents people from abusing it by having several people alternate keeping it up, which is why the debuff is there on a skill that could otherwise have an infinite upkeep.

The reason I bring it up is for the way I think shield wall could work with the team’s ideas and the rightful poor reception from probably all of the 5 guardian players in the game:

  • Shield wall now has no cooldown.

  • When you use shield wall, it refills the amount of shields it increases and they go away the moment you exit the skill, meaning you cannot use it as a second shield of faith while still having some last stand use for it or combining it with shield of faith.

  • When you use shield wall, it triggers a 30-second debuff on the guardian that prevents them from benefitting from the partial shield refill until the debuff goes away.

  • This debuff does not affect the regen delay, which combines with the rest of the skill to not encourage just facetanking everything with shields while also topping it with EHP auras, because that’s a genuine problem with guardian tanking being Too Good™ and from that point of view I can understand why the direction it took was this. Anyway, the regen delay means the 2 guardians in the game that use seraph can now disengage from the fight through stampede, use shield wall to recharge shields faster and get back in the fight.

The idea is to give it a double function while making it clear for the player when the shield refill can be used. Unfortunately, rebuffing the skill’s ability to tank also means rebuffing a class that already has no issues stacking auras, a percentage-based healing and a group-wide buff to EHP to become immortal. I would even ask who the fuck actually uses shield wall (me lol but actually not anymore) when there are more mobile and sustainable methods of tanking in the guardian’s repertoire. If you ask me, this smells like a much deeper issue that unfortunately needs attention to the class itself, as opposed to a single skill.