I have noticed in looking that there does not seem to be an easy to find up to date guide for tanking as a Warden on these forums anymore. This is a shame! I believe that the Warden is the most satisfying class to play once you have learned how to play it well. We make excellent tanks and when traited and geared appropriately make decent DPS as well.
This guide will only be focused upon the Warden’s role as a tank however. This guide will be aimed at the current level cap as this is where you have all gambits available and will be in a position to tackle the most content. Lower level Wardens wanting to tank can still get a lot from reading this guide though.
For some people much of this will be very basic and already known but I have been approached by plenty of newer players wanting something from the ground up and this is what I intend to provide...hopefully there are some hints in here that can improve all Wardens out there somehow!
Disclaimer: I am not a game developer I write what I can see and from what I have experienced over the years playing this class. Everyone has a different style and I am happy to take comments for improvement or different points of view!
The first important point to understand is that Wardens are not at all like Guardians with regards to tanking style. Guardians are (on the whole) reactive tanks, Wardens are proactive. A Guardian waits for Block responses to activate powerful threat skills, the Warden’s power lies in threat leeching to stay top of the threat pile. Learning what all your Gambits can do for you is key in becoming a great Warden.
The Wardens tanking stance is Determination. Determination gives you a good amount of In-Combat Morale Regen (ICMR), decent In-Combat Power Regen (ICPR) as well as bonuses to your Critical Defence, Block, Parry and Evade Ratings.
The Wardens Primary stat when developing a tanking build is Vitality. Each point of Vitality gives the Warden:
• 5 morale (As it does the Guardian but all other classes get 3)
• 2 Physical Mitigation
• 4 Tactical Mitigation
• 2 Resistance Rating
• 7.2 Non-Combat Morale Regen
The Wardens second important stat is Agility. Each point of Agility gives:
• 10 Physical Mastery Rating
• 5 Tactical Mastery Rating
• 2 Parry Rating
• 4 Evade Rating
It is also important to remember that although the Warden has changed from a Might based class to an Agility based one, Might still has an important part to play for the tanking Warden.
Each point of Might gives:
• 2 Parry Rating
• 4 Block Rating
• 2 Physical Mitigation
N.B While update 10 is still live Wardens will also gain Physical and Tactical Mastery from Might but I have left this out from the bullet points for future clarity...Agility is where it is at if you want/need Mastery guys!
So a quick note here, Wardens differ from Guardians because they negate damage by avoiding it entirely rather than reducing its magnitude. Wardens cap at 50% mitigation as a Medium Armour wearer whereas Guardians can get to 70% due to being Heavy Armour wearers. That is a pretty big difference so the Warden must make it their aim to get Block/Parry/Evade (B/P/E) up to as higher level as possible.
The Warden cannot Block or Parry Attacks coming from behind. It is extremely important to be aware of this when tanking, try and keep all your foes in front of you at all times to avoid the maximum amount of damage.
However, is it also important to remember that B/P/E ratings cap at 25%! This means that if you are already very near cap un-buffed you should tweak your set-up to gain in other areas. Once you start your Gambit rotations you will bust over the top which is wasteful. Finding just the right balance is the key to being a top Warden.
A quick note on Critical Defence here, it is great...get as much of it as you can manage!
The selection you choose here will be important to your build. The first thing that is worth mentioning is that where other classes often stack into Tactical Mitigation virtues this is something the Warden is unlikely to need to do. The vitality levels we reach mean you are almost at or already at the cap un-buffed for this stat so use Virtues to enhance other areas.
My personal favourite to enhance with Virtues is Resistance. A lot of damage and inconvenience can be saved by having a high figure for this stat. This will not only provide a higher chance that you do not get Wounds/Diseases etc but also a chance that when you do you can avoid the damage of the tick!
Good choices for Virtues (In no Particular order) for the Warden are:
Zeal, Valour, Charity, Honour, Tolerance, Loyalty, Fidelity and Innocence.
Picking out your selection is totally down to your own build and where you feel you need the extra goodies. I always like to bear in mind what you can and cannot get from other items in the game so chop and change about to see how the build looks with different selections. Having a lot of these at high levels is always good...you never know what the next update might bring!
The Wardens tanking line is The Way of the Shield. This line is aimed at enhancing our self buffs and our ability to heal ourselves, one of the key differences between the tanking Guardian and Warden is our access to powerful self heals. However there are several important traits in the Way of the Fist line that are essential slots in the Wardens tank class trait arrangement. I will get to those a little later.
As we can see in a tanking build 5 traits from The Way of the Shield are chosen. This may again fall to personal preference but most Wardens would agree that must haves are:
Perseverance : + 2 Pulses to Heal over Time effects
Combat Positioning: +687 Fist Gambit Evade Rating. Successful Evades or Partial Evades will restore 1% of the Warden’s Morale
Wary Blocks: +10s duration to Block Buffs
Shield Trickery: Adds 10% chance to apply bonuses when using Shield-Bash
In the Way of the Fist line there are several very useful class traits for the tanking Warden:
Terrible Visage: -3777 Target Warden’s Taunt Resist Rating. Increases threat generated by skills in Determination Stance (which makes this a must slot!)
Strong Voice: -1717 Target Fist Gambits Resist Rating
The Legendary Way of the Shield ‘Capstone’ is full of goodies for the Warden, the extra pulses on your heals is always good as is the increased magnitude.
There is also a very useful Class Trait in the Spear Line called ‘A Keen Response’. This one ups your Parry Gambit Rating as well as rewarding you with returned Power for every Parried attack..very useful..get it slotted!
The tanking Warden has 2 more slots available after the Way of the Shield ‘Capstone’ is slotted. Defiant Challenge is a must have. This skill has the ability to save poor position from defeat and to ease the difficulty of a really nasty pull. Its relatively small cool down (which can be further reduced using a legendary Javelin legacy) makes this an incredibly powerful tanking skill.
The last choice can fall to choice, some like to take Javelin of Deadly Force for the multiple foe damage pull, personally I take Way of the Warden, it isn’t amazing but the extra Critical Defence isn’t to be sniffed at in my view! There is also the option of Grand Master Weapons Training which gives increased melee damage as well as an extra 1% Parry percentage when using a sword!
Yes a sword is the ideal tanking weapon due to the parry rating, but look, if you dig an axe then go for it!
In an ideal world you want to get the following:-
Main hand weapon Majors (ranked in order of importance):
Fist-spear threat increase
Shield line buff duration
Spear line parry buff increase
The Minors for main hand are not all that important in my view, shield tactics mitigation is there but you will be capped in a tank build anyway so it will be pointless and I only tend to use shield tactics if I know stuns are possible in a big multi mob pull and want the 10 seconds grace to get myself rolling. Use these slots to get vitality/agility/might increases.
The only one that may be worth slotting (and I actually personally don’t and would be interested to hear what other Wardens think about this) is Javelin skills max range which appears to affect the range of Resounding Challenge and Call to Battle. This could actually be rather useful in certain situations!
Shield line healing
Fist line buff duration
Fist line evade buff increase
Determination stance ICMR increase
Shield Mastery block rating increase
Defiant challenge cool down reduction
I will start with Crafted here; although the crafted Critical Defence and Mitigation one is nice, because you can often cap these un-buffed I currently run one of these and 1 +40 Vitality one. This will come down to what your build needs at the time!
Below is a table of suitable tanking Settings etc. From a personal stand point I always prioritize partial and full avoidances because these are not so easily found elsewhere. Having an extra 2000 morale is all well and good but you can avoid all that damage and more by having higher B/P/E ratings so I am always willing to sacrifice raw morale for this in my builds.
What do my tanking Gambits do?
“You only need one Gambit, It is called Impressive Flourish....”
Ok Jokes aside
The Warden has 3 types of gambit available that directly build threat.
1. Gambits that increase threat (e.g. Resounding Strike/Spear of Virtue/Surety of Death) – These are good at the start of fights or to quickly build threat when adds arrive or threat has been wiped)
2. Gambits that increase threat over time (e.g. Call to Battle/Exultation of Battle/Precise Blow) – It is always a good idea to have some of these ticking away for you, they will stack so don’t be afraid to use Potency!
3. Gambits that transfer threat (e.g. Maddening Strike/Dance of War/Conviction/Aggression) – The bread and butter once the fight is well established, keep stealing to stay ahead!
The three Gambits Deft Strike (Sp-Sp), Defensive Strike (Sh-Sh) and Goad (Fi-Fi) have a chance to give the Warden an effect called ‘Potency’. This will store the next used Gambit to Memory so that you can use it again. This is very useful to either get a fully tiered buff (explained below) or to quickly build threat up.
Down to the business of actually tanking!
Right then, tanking itself! I am not going to go writing out what each and every Gambit does here, you can all see what they do yourself by reading your Gambit list in game...but better still you need to get out there and see what they actually do for you.
It is worth me saying again that what follows are simply things that work for me when I am tanking, there is no steadfast one size fits all ‘uber rotation’ for the Warden. You will need to amend what happens depending on what your specific situation is. I will outline a few simple ones a little later.
First of all we need to look at the Wardens best friend; this of course is ‘Battle Preparation’! I cannot stress enough how great this ability is for us, we can get ourselves partially buffed before we even enter the fray using BP and this is exactly what you should be aiming to do.
N.B: As you get more experienced you will learn to know when you can skip all the usual BP openers to gain speed when farming certain instances, but for the sake of this we will assume this is going to be a very hard pull!
You should aim to activate the following before you run in/throw a javelin and activate mobs:
• Shield Mastery
• Dance of War
• Dance of War
• EoB or Call to Battle or Resounding Challenge depending on situation or personal preference!
This will send you into battle with 40 seconds of extra Evade Rating, Critical Defence, Physical and Tactical Mitigation. Shield Mastery will provide extra Block and Evade rating for at least a minute (probably more if you have the legacy on your legendary) and a heal ticking as well for you and your fellow heroes. Trust me running in with all this going is a nice feeling for an intrepid Waden!
Buff Up while generating Threat:
Some may now be asking ‘Why did you do DoW twice in there?’ Good! The budding Waden is always asking questions! Well the answer is that it increases the amount of time that the buff is active. You could have built up Maddening Strike first and then DoW afterwards but you cannot fire off Maddening Strike in BP because it requires a target to hit!
The same applies for Brink of Victory and Surety of Death, seeing as both are quick animations I tend to build Surety of Death using Potency so I can fire it off twice very quickly to gain the full 40 seconds of benefit.
If you used Maddening Strike and Brink of Victory only once in combat you would get a lesser version of the best buff for a shorter period of time. By then using the better version (Dance of War and Surety of Death in this case) (before the weaker buff expires...usually 30 seconds) you get the upgraded version for longer. Once you have the 40 second version of each of these you only need to use the top tier Gambit once to regain the 40 second effect.
This also applies to Safeguard and Celebration of Skill which will give a 50 second Block and Partial Block buff once you use them either in that order or Celebration of Skill Twice. In this case it would be worth using Safeguard first and then Celebration of Skill so that you get the HoT effect from each Gambit. Once you have the 50s buff up, to maintain the 50s buff you need only activate CoS once before it runs out to get the full 50s again.
In short this means once you have these three up on top tier you just need to use Surety of Death/Dance of War/Celebration of Skill to keep getting the full benefit rather than building them up with the 3 icon ones first. If you do let them run out you will need to either build the 4 icon ones twice (using Potency as previously mentioned) or the 3 icon followed by the 4 icon.
**If this is unclear to you then drop me a message and I will be happy to help!**
I would highly recommend downloading the ‘BuffBars’ plugin for use with tanking as it shows you how long you have left from top to bottom making it much easier to see which you need to renew before it runs out! Attempting to see which ones are running low on the usual buff bar by your portrait is hopeless as they flick around too much and it simply isn’t practical in the thick of combat.
You will see that each of these buffs has a name on the buff bar for the 3 icon buff and then the 4 icon one. For example, if you use Maddening Strike you get a buff called ‘Advanced Armour Use’ for 30 seconds. If you then use Dance of War inside these 30 seconds you will get a buff called ‘Enduring Expert Armour Use’ for 40 seconds. This buff will be more powerful than the previous one. Each upgraded version works in this same way.
The best way to learn this is to go and find a training dummy for a while and have at it, this way you can pay closer attention to your buffs and see exactly what is happening in a safe situation. Never underestimate the benefit of pounding on a dummy to keep yourself sharp, let your ferret have a go too, he needs to keep himself in good condition!
Let’s say you have got a group of 3-6 mobs ahead of you:
• BP to build up as many buffs and heals as you can, then ready your first threat Gambit...pull mobs and use this Gambit (outlined earlier)
• Goad to gain Potency
• Defensive Strike to gain Potency
• DoW (reset 40 second timer for buff and transfer aggro)
• Use Goad to gain Potency
• Surety of Death
• Surety of Death
From here it is up to you and what the situation is, if you expect more adds at some stage you could use Goad/Defensive Strike to Memory Store Resounding Challenge for a quick Threat grab ready at your fingertips. This is particularly effective in a fight where a boss uses a threat wipe mechanic, (a good example is the Warg Pens final boss) you can use the Memory Gambit to quickly grab his attention back and then rebuild threat as you see fit.
Don’t forget to buff your Parry Rating using Wall of Steel!
You should also use Safeguard and Celebration of Skill to further increase your avoidances. Remember to keep an eye on those buffs and reset the 40 second timer, once you are comfortable with how these work you will naturally rotate these in every 30 seconds or so to make sure you don’t miss out...and even if you do due to unforeseen circumstances you can easily build them up again!
Don’t forget to re-activate Shield Mastery as well, I often see Wardens start a fight with this up but then they totally forget about it because it lasts for over a minute from the start...use that buff bar and make sure it’s still there!
If the target is single or you do not expect adds the most effective way to stay in the threat lead is to leach. While throwing in the odd threat over time Gambit is nice, Aggression is your best friend. This Gambit is a life saver and a double spam of this one using Potency can very quickly drag a mob(s) back onto you should they stray for some reason. The reason this is such a great leach Gambit is it is very quick to fire off unlike Conviction and DoW which both take a little longer. There is always some Hunter who likes to open with Heartseeker to see what you are made of, show him that you can handle his misdemeanour effortlessly and then spank him afterwards...
Some instances will have adds coming in from side doors etc. In this situation the new Gambits ‘Resounding Challenge’ and ‘Call to Battle’ are effective due to their range but always remember that threat leech skills will drag mobs towards you as well. Also remember that EoB only has a short 6.2 metre range, you will need to run into a mob cluster ans fire it off to get the maximum targets.
Some particularly hectic encounters may see the Warden needing to kite. Good examples of this are are Sword Halls Challenge mode and The Barrows Maze Challenge mode for quite different reasons. Never be afraid to use kiting as a technique if it works.
In the Sword Halls for example the sheer volume of mobs including the three bosses and the very likely chance of stuns make standing and facing off impractical. In this instance the savvy Waden will use EoB and liberal use of Potency via Goad to heal themselves effectively on the move while generating threat while their partners in crime take down the nasties until the numbers become more manageable. In situations where aggro is not being generated on all mobs via EoB, a quickly built double Aggression will get the job done as well.
In the example of The Maze, where a portion of the mobs must not be killed, kiting can again be used as a very effective technique. Because the Warden can effectively generate and steal threat without damaging their foes they are uniquely placed in this situation!
How do I learn all these Gambits?!
A very common question from new Wardens, my only answer is lots of practice and repetition, if you love the Warden and play regularly you will learn the Gambits by heart, I have never made use of the charts that you will find around the forums but if these help then by all means use them! Whatever works for you is the key!
It is very important to learn all the possible combinations of Masteries to quickly build your gambits up during battle!
Personally I think it helps to not only learn how to form them by saying out loud “Spear-Fist-Spear-Fist” for example (yes Boars Rush very good those that knew instantly) but to have a sensible Gambit building area arranged on your hot bars. You will also then learn the gambits by recognising the patterns as you click them. Below is my set-up:
I am currently using a mouse that has 12 buttons on the side arranged from 1-12 top to bottom in 4 rows of three which I use with my thumb. (I know that will sound totally crazy to some but bear with me here). This means that I ‘click’ on very few skills while tanking, Battle preparation and occasional wound pot for example. The rest of the time my thumb is doing the work for me so I am free to manoeuvre around the battlefield as I see fit and crucially have my eyes looking around the screen rather than always fixed on my hot bar buttons.
Now not everybody has one of these mice at hand and they cost £50 a chuck (however, I could not recommend them any more fervently to the aspiring Warden as once you are used to doing it this way you won’t ever look back).
The important thing is that I know just looking at my hot bar that 9-5 is Aggression, 8-7-1 is EoB and 4-5-2 is the Dark before Dawn. Once you get familiar with your set-up you will be the same and you will just naturally form the Gambit that you want to form.
Thanks for reading and I hope this was of some help to some budding Wadens out there. All constructive comments are welcome; I have spent most of today writing this on and off so there are bound to be mistakes, let me know so I can amend it! Is anybody able to sticky threads like this for us anymore? What’s the score?
Nykki Topleaf from Snowbourn