Developer Diary: Guardian Advancement Beyond Level 50!
A number of changes to the Guardian class come with the Mines of Moria expansion, and in this dev diary weâll explore the new abilities and possibilities the expansion brings to the class.
Guardians have always had the highest levels of damage mitigation, and in Moria that continues to be the case. Though changes to the combat system have shifted the overall balance of the game, Guardians still reign supreme when it comes to their ability to take hits. To maintain this dominance over the tanking role, a number of familiar traits and skills have been updated to take advantage of elements in the new combat system to keep the Guardian on top.
With the level cap increasing to 60, a new set of Guardian skills and traits enters into the mix. These skills and traits fall into the following three categories: boss tanking, group tanking, and damage dealing. These three categories also generally describe the three Trait Set paths in which Guardians may choose to specialize. We hope that these options will provide you with the toolset you need to create a Guardian that best fits your style of tanking.
The Fighter of Shadow line focuses on improving a Guardianâs ability to keep a boss monster occupied over an extended fight. It stresses power regeneration, critical and devastating defensive abilities, and shield functionality. With the introduction of devastating attacks, the ability of the Guardian to reduce incoming critical and devastating hits provided by this set allows a Fighter of Shadow to even out damage. The Guardian can now reduce the risk of a chain of deadly enemy critical hits more than any other class.
The traits in the Fighter of Shadow set focus on defensive abilities, threat generation, and power regeneration traits. It includes staples like the Guardianâs Ward trait, Controlled Breathing, and Defensive Expertise. It also includes new traits such as Threatening Presence, which increases threat generated by shield attacks, and Final Straw, which allows Fray the Edge to stack up to a 30% chance for a conjunction event.
The bonuses for the Fighter of Shadow Trait Set focus on power restoration, shield damage, and improved critical and devastating attack defenses. A level 60 Guardian who focuses on this line would essentially look like a level 62 Guardian to a monster when it comes to their ability to critically hit the Guardian, which amounts to a significant reduction.
Take to Heart allows a Guardian to drain power off of a target opponent at the cost of morale instead of power. This helps replenish the Guardianâs power for other skills, and reduces the targetâs pool. When combined with the Legendary Trait Heart of Fire, this skill can go a long way towards depleting a bossâs power pool, as well as its ability to perform special skills.
The Heart of Fire Legendary trait reduces the cooldown on Take to Heart from two minutes to one. It also reduces the skillâs morale cost by 20% and increases the Critical and Devastate defence levels of the Guardian by 1.
The Defender of the Free
If there is any area in which Guardians occasionally fall short, it is in their ability to generate threat. Though they have more ways than any other class to steal threat and force taunt, other classes (such as the Champion, Hunter, or Minstrel) can all quickly generate more threat if they arenât careful. The Defender of the Free trait line provides the Guardian with extra threat generation capabilities. Other classes can still generate more threat if they are not careful, but a Guardian with the Defender of the Free specialization will make it harder to do.
This Trait Set contains some old standby traits such as Harasser and a revised Stoic which now provides a 5% boost to all non-common damage mitigation. It also contains new traits such as Shield of Fire which gives Shield-Taunt even more threat generation.
The Defender of the Free set bonuses focus on generating increased threat on multiple targets. This occurs through increased threat generation, additional damage through dots, or increased perceived threat. With this trait line in full swing, a Guardian in Guardianâs Threat stance can keep threat even against very active DPS classes.
Litany of Defiance introduces a new concept to The Lord of the Rings Online: the idea of threat over time, which behaves much like a damage-over-time effect such as a bleed. The effect applied by Litany of Defiance periodically generates additional threat on a target.
With Litany Master slotted, Shield Smash, Vexing Blow, and Sweeping Cut all gain the ability to add a stacking threat-over-time effect on a crit. While not 100% reliable, this can provide a large boost to threat generation when the dice roll your way.
The Keen Blade
There are some who stick to the mantra that the best defence is a good offense, and for those Guardians, the path of the Keen Blade will be the ideal choice. This Trait Set focuses on increasing the damage output of a Guardian by improving Overpower.
The traits in the Keen Blade are those that focus on offensive abilities and modifying skills associated with Overpower. It includes familiar traits such as Quickness and Stinging Blow, as well as new traits (such as Raw Power) which increase damage in Overpower and the Power costs of Overpower.
The Keen Bladeâs bonuses are focused on improving the capabilities of the Overpower Stance. While straightforward, they provide a boost to Overpowerâs damage output and reduce the power cost multiplier. With all of the set bonuses and Raw Power, a Guardian in Overpower stance will receive a 26% boost to DPS.
Brutal Assault provides a big chunk of bonus damage and has a short cooldown timer, allowing a Guardian a large damage skill outside of the parry response chain of skills.
With this Legendary Trait slotted, Brutal Assault has a 50% chance to apply a massive bleed. This bleed stacks with the bleed from Salt the Wound, and with both up at level 60, theyâll apply over 100 points of damage every 2 seconds.
Two of the Guardianâs existing skills will see improvements as they climb from 50-60. Improved Sting gains the ability to apply a countdown effect that will remove a corruption when it completes its countdown. When traited, Sting allows Guardians to remove corruptions across multiple monsters very quickly. Shield Punch sees an improvement in its damage, increasing it to nearly the level of Bash.
With the implementation of the new combat system, several new properties make an appearance on Guardian traits and skills. Youâll notice Partial Block and Parry Chance as well as Partial Block and Parry Mitigation. These new abilities allow the Guardian to reduce the damage of incoming attacks that they arenât able to completely turn aside. Youâll also notice that some flat percentage bonuses now give increases to rating values instead. These changes are part of the combat system overhaul (details of which are forthcoming in another dev diary) which will help ensure that you have opportunities for increased character growth while still keeping the game challenging.
With the switch to Moria, you may notice that line bonuses are no longer associated with traits. These were an early attempt to create Trait Set type synergies between traits, and with the introduction of the Trait Set, this older system has been removed. For Guardians that focused on the threat line bonuses, you can recapture those bonuses by slotting the new trait Threatening Presence.
With the addition of Trait Sets and the new Legendary Item system, there are more opportunities for customization and growth in Moria than ever before in The Lord of the Rings Online. We hope that you have fun exploring the options available to you!