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Basic Warden Guide
Starting a Warden? Wardens are a well-rounded melee class that also has group buffs, self buffs, speed, healing, resurrect and most of all blade turn. Playing a Warden is a lot of fun. If you're starting a Warden, here's a plan for specing your character to be effective for both PvE and RvR. As a caveat, there are more ways than one to play a Warden; some people prefer to focus more on damage and others prefer to focus on healing abilities. I fall somewhere in the middle. I selected skills and abilities that I believe can best benefit a group as a whole:
Here's how I'm speced at Level 50
The sections below detail a list of how to spec a Warden over time. But to summarize, here's an overall view on the most important lines in this spec. Nurture is the primary line. Spec this high as your key abilities are in this line. Spec a weapon second. Keep your weapon spec as high as possible after Nurture. You'll want a little into Regrowth for some better heal spells, but not a lot. Later on you won't be able to be both healer and hold the Blade Turn chant on the group effectively with the mana you have. Wardens can spec their healing line and can heal well, but those skills are better suited to the Hibernian primary healing class, the Druid. Parry comes last. You get 5% block by default. Every point you put into parry gives you a half percent more chance to block. So putting a few points into parry is cheap and increases your blocking chance some while specing higher uses points you could spec better other places.
Your role as a Warden will change over time. How you spec and play your warden at the low levels will change several times as you get some of your various key abilities. Detailed below are some suggestions on how you can spec your Warden as you level to maximize effectiveness.
Early on you'll be a melee character. You don't get any of your main character abilities until level 18 so spec high into your weapon line. The higher your weapon spec is the more overall damage you'll do. You'll do well soloing as a Warden. Pick either blades or blunt. Both work well. I choose blades because there just seem to be more blades in the game. Swing time with blades is faster than blunt but you'll do more damage with a single blunt hit. For more information on specing blades or blunts there is a discussion at the bottom of this page.
The main thing you want to do is make sure is you plan to have Nurture at your level when you hit level 18 so you can get your first group Blade Turn spell. Here's how I'd recommend specing up to level 18:
Speced like this you'll do decent damage as a tank, you'll have a decent heal spell, and you'll get Blade Turn (bubble) for your group as early as possible. What you may notice early on is groups asking you to perform different roles based on the group make up. You may find yourself doing melee or being a healer. You'll do both well.
When you reach level 10 spec in Nurture you'll get Nature's Fend. This is a single blade turn you can cast on any member of your party. Before battle always bubble up your tanks and make sure your healers still have a bubble on them too. Blade Turn blocks a single hit from a mob. If you don't take damage, you don't need to be healed and Blade Turn does just that. This is your most important spell line as a Warden. In situations where you don't have enough healing power in a group you have two choices; you can stand back and repeatedly cast Nature's Fend on the main tank, preventing a lot of damage, or you can heal him/her as they take damage. Turn on your group zeal chant (Nature's Revenge, Vendetta, Vengence) as soon as you get it. This boosts the melee damage for all the members of your party. You'll use this a lot up until level 26 and then you'll very rarely use it from then on out. Being speced highly in Nurture also gives you the Warden's speed spell. It's no Bard speed, but it will get you around town faster. You have the ability to have one "chant" on at a time. Speed and zeal are your two main group chants at this point. Use zeal in battle, and speed if you don't have a bard in your group or are solo when not in battle. You've got buffs too! Cast those on the members of your party to increase their stats. You have the same buffs as bards and druids. Use them whenever possible.
At level 18 you'll get your first group Blade Turn. Your role will change the most dramatically during levels 18-25. Much of the time you probably won't be meleeing, but instead healing or casting bubble on the group. At this point in the game you're probably heavily into the Parthenon farm or other area where in groups you're being faced with mobs that come in groups instead of the singles from earlier levels. With three mobs on three of your party members, group Blade Turn (Nature's Shield) is your best friend. Stand back and cast repeatedly on the entire party. This can use your mana up quickly so in some cases you may be casting just the single Blade Turn on your main tank. Keep zeal on the group while in battle. As you level add the next few levels put some more skill points into Regrowth for better heals. Here's how I'd recommend specing up to level 26:
Ah... at level 26 spec in Nurture you now have your group blade turn chant. Turn on Nature's Guard whenever in battle. This negates a damage hit every 10 seconds for all members of your party. This is, by far, the most useful feature Wardens have. Forget zeal from here on out. If you have two Warden's in your group, stack bubble. Cast them five seconds apart and now you have a combined five second bubble. Very nice. You'll be able to go with much less healing power if necessary simply because bubble will negate a lot of damage. Get back into melee. You'll melee more and more from here on out. You may be asked to be a healer. You're not a super healer, but not a terrible one at this point either. Holding the bubble chant on takes mana, but not that much, so you can be a backup healer easy. Later on, this won't be the case. Your days as a healer are numbered. Note that your weapon spec is falling way behind here. That's okay, the Nurture line is your most valuable asset. Your weapon spec will catch up later and you'll eventually have your weapon at close to your level. One thing you may have noticed at this point is that you're not holding aggro in most of the battles and you're not doing nearly the damage those tanks and casters keep talking about. A Warden is a hybrid class, don't ever expect to do the damage a tank or caster will do. You've got other assets that make you highly valuable. Here's how I'd recommend specing up to level 36:
At level 36 Nurture spec you get a better bubble chant, Nature's Barrier. This negates a hit on your party members at eight seconds rather than ten. If you get this at level 36, groups will love you. Definitely a must have over all other specs in my opinion. With the eight second bubble chant on you're going to be using a lot of mana just to hold the chant on. It may not look like it because you'll have your mana maxed in battle all the time, but be assured, you're using 157 mana every minute while it's active. If you heal during battle and then don't sit after battle you'll notice your power barely regens (unless you have the Bard mana song on or the Mentalist's mana buff.) If you've been in the battlegrounds and have some Realm Skill Points to spend get Mystic Crystal Lore and/or Serenity. MCL will give you a 25% instant mana regen every three minutes out of combat and Serenity helps you regenrate mana a bit faster for each level. At this point you should be a last ditch healer in groups. Getting your mana down to nothing every battle because you're healing is bad for everyone's downtime. Most people know Wardens can heal, but many don't realize the mana cost of keeping bubble on at the higher levels. If you have to be a healer, take bubble off and on when meding so your mana will come back faster. For healing, spec regrowth a little higher for better heal and resurrect spells. Here's how I'd recommend specing up to level 45:
Finally, you have your key ability, six second blade turn. Nature's Wall is the best feature Warden's have. You will be a very desirable member of groups simply because of this ability. You may be even asked to stay logged in for free XP when you need to go because it will hurt the group if you leave. But the six second bubble has a price. You're using 210 power every minute just to keep on the blade turn chant. Over time your power bar will go down if you don't have the mana buff, mana song or the Serenity realm ability. Let your mana drop, don't worry about it. At some point take a med break with bubble off to get it back up and/or cast MCL if you have it. It's well worth a little power being used for the benefit you get from this ability. Because lots of your power is going to blade turn you will be an emergency healer only. Stop meleeing if people are going to die and heal heal heal. But, when you heal, make sure you keep a bit of mana in reserve so blade turn will stay on. You're a melee class from here on out. Spec your weapon as high as possible. At this point you should have weapons with +skills to them and hopefully you've been in RvR and gotten a few realm ranks. With that, you should be able to get your weapon close to your level. Here's how I'd recommend specing up to level 50:
Why this final spec at level 50? Several reasons. First, specing to 47 Nurture gets you a self attack speed buff of 38%. You'll be swinging even a slow weapon quickly with this buff. This buff is more than double what most Druids can give you and definitely helps your damage over time. Keep this buff on all the time. Second, specing to 49 in nurture gets you the top three group resist buffs: body, energy and spirt all at 24%. In PvE situations, resists are important only if the mob type you're killing uses that type of Damage. However, in RvR, you group will be faced with all kinds of damage and effects thrown at you all at once. The higher the resists on your party, the better. You also get the top group damage add spell specing this highly in Nurture as well. There are some situations where you will still use zeal and having the best helps your party.
High Nurture - Buffing Benefits
One thing to mention that Wardens get by default when specing high Nurture is better baseline buffs. By going 49 in Nurture you will have better baseline buffs than Bards or Druids who have selected to spec low in Nurture for other features of their class. There is some very specific math behind how all this works but the bottom line is that by specing almost to 50 in Nurture, you will be handing out the best basesline buffs available (without ToA gear taken into account.) If you're interested in the math on this here's a page written by Darcstar with all the specifics including Druid buffs.
Blades or Blunts - The Debate
What is better, blades or blunt? At the time I created Pharaoh there was really no difference between the two. You just picked the one you liked the best and went for it. Mythic has changed their damage tables several times and has tried to balance out weapon damage across the board. When choosing what weapon to spec consider the following:
Warden's have a self melee speed buff (Ferocity of Nature through Reckoning of Nature.) This buff significantly increases the swing time of your weapon. That coupled with high quickness will get you swinging fast. The minimum swing time for any weapon is 1.5 seconds. With faster blades, self buffs, druid buffs and capped gear you can easily cap your swing time and do less damage over time than you could with a slower weapon. Because blunts in general swing more slowly you may have a better selection of weapons from which to choose without overcapping your swing time. From one test I did moving to a much slower weapon I found that over a 40 second time period I was doing close to 500 more damage. Go for slow weapons where possible.
I personally use a slow blades weapons to cap my attack swing time at 1.5 seconds. I like blades for the great style combination of Fire Blade / Spectrum Blade. Fire Blade is an anytime style and Spectrum Blade is a follow-up to Fire Blade. Spectrum blade adds an attack speed reduction on your enemy which is perfect with your blade turn. A slower attacking enemy will hit you less often.
High or Low Parry - The Debate
I've heard and read a lot of different thoughts on how warden's should spec parry. I intentionally didn't put many points into parry and I wanted to explain my rationale. First, warden's only get 1.5 spec points per level and we've got to divide those across four main lines (weapon, Nurture, Regrowth and Parry.) I believe strongly in having the Nurture line highly speced. If you're not specing in Nuture as a Warden you're most likely playing the wrong character. At the higher levels you'll spend all your time meleeing with bubble on, so specing highly in your weapon also makes sense. Some points in regrowth will give you a better resurrect and lower mana cost spec line heals. With those specs, you don't have much left over for parry. However, is parry even that useful for a warden?
Parry is only useful if you're being attacked. From my experience as a warden this happens a very small percentage of the time. When you're XPing if you're pulling a single mob the most powerful tank will have aggro. Parry isn't doing you a bit of good in these situations unfortunately. Later on in higher level groups you may have multiple mobs at once and you may be responsible for holding aggro on one of those. Parry is useful in these cases but since Parry is only helping you and your other lines help the group, I think Nurture is the more important line. In RvR you will be engaging the enemy. However, parry isn't nearly as effective against styles as it is against mobs. Your chance of parrying against a style is significantly lower. So, parry for a warden isn't nearly as useful as it sounds like it could be simply because you're not in a position to parry much of the time like a tank would be.
Overall, parry does have application in some cases as you XP and RvR, but the price is far to high for the relative benefit you get. I would much rather have a better group blade turn chant and higher resist buffs for my group members in RvR than the possibility of parrying one or two attacks. Bottom line, my advice is to spec low in parry to get an inexpensive boost to your blocking percentage and spend the rest of your points in the other lines.
What about a healing-based Warden? More and more lately I'm seeing this from other Wardens I talk with. While a Warden will never have the amazing healing powers of a Druid, you can heal very well if you spec highly in Regrowth. The Warden's I've seen do this usually still go to 49 in Nurture as preventing damage with bubble is more desirable to having to heal for it. However, in lieu of a weapon spec they go for as much healing as possible. With this spec the Warden takes on a healing role in RvR groups primarily and melees in PvE when there isn't as much danger of deaths. This is a more difficult spec to manage well while you level as it requires RAs that focus on mana pool and regeneration so that you have the power to utilize those high heals such as Serenity, Augmented Acuity, Mystic Crystal Lore and Raging Power.
With the release of 1.70 this became a bit easier as single target heals take much less power to cost. As long as you're not using your group heal repeatedly you can be a fairly effective. In RvR. You won't do the damage a weapon speced Warden will but it's a good spec for a Warden who wants to focus more on supporting their group.
I have speced my realm abilities to help the group and force I'm battling with in RvR. Here are abilities I have and why I selected them:
Mystic Crystal Lore: At level one you get a 25% instacast mana boost, recastable every three minutes. Great in XP or RvR, Get this first and as soon as you can. MCL will help you get in those extra heals or that resurrect you need when you're low on power. I have MCL2 and use it in RvR all the time to resurrect that third person or get more mana for healing, etc.
Thornweed Field III: This is your key RvR ability. It's used all the time field RvR and keep/tower battle. Armor of the Gods, the other Warden specific RA is nice but in my opinion there is no way it can beat 255 points of damage plus snare every three seconds for 30 seconds no matter what kind of tank group you have. Level three is 30 points which is expensive. This would still be the second ability I went for. While you're working on those 30 points and have an RA respec, select other abilities and then respec for TWF III when you have the total points.
Long Wind I: Sprint forever with your self endurance regen buff. Great for getting away as needed RvR and very useful in some PvE situations. Grab this when it's convenient. I don't use it a lot but I'm glad I've got it when I need it. At one point it's an easy RA to fit in.
Purge II: A must have for any Warden serious in RvR. If you are mesmerized or stunned your blade turn is off and your entire party suffers. Get this and cast it in any situation where it will help you or your party. Bards will hopefully unmez you quickly if possible but don't be afraid to use your purge. I rarely regret casting it.
Ignore Pain II: Venehment Renewal and Fury of Nature are great RA's a Warden has to heal their group. But if you're dead, you can't heal anyone and since these RAs don't heal you, IP was a requirement for me.
Serenity II: Better mana regeneration. Serenity two would be even better but there are things I wanted more so I held off until after Ignore Pain. MCL helps a lot in the meantime.
Vehement Renewal: A very nice group insta-heal ability. I have level one and plan to eventually get level two. I use it all time and it's a great health booster in the middle of battle. It's also a great way to heal your group and not use any power.
Lifter: Being able to carry two diminutive siege weapons and not be encumbered if I get debuffed is important to the play style I have. For one point Lifter one was very economical and I would consider higher than level one at a later point.
Wardens in RvR
In RvR you have several things you should focus on. First, remember, you're not a tank! Don't run straight into battle and whack the first enemy you see. This is a sure recipe for death. When you die it hurts your party. You will have buffs on people. Losing those hurts them. You'll have bubble protecting them as well. Your main job is to stick back a bit to let the tanks get into melee first. I usually stick somewhere between the casters in the back and the tanks in front so hopefully I can keep the bubble on as many as possible. You will engage the enemy, just do so carefully. Assist the person designated as the target picker or "Main Assist" where possible. Remember that it's better for you to stay alive than for you to do some damage on an enemy and die straight up.
There are lots of things a Warden does in RvR that are tremendously helpful for their group aside from running into battle and meleeing. Here are the main things I find myself doing in RvR with the spec above:
Assist the Main Assist: Assist, assist, assist. This is my pet peeve and a requirement for players in the groups we run. The assist train works, it's very hard to counter and an excellent tactic for single groups. You select a tank Main Assist and when you encounter enemies you /assist that character and help them take out the targets they select. Healers can't keep a character alive when three or four people are all doing damage on them at the same time.
Stay in Range: It's so tempting to run of and kill that one weak caster that's running away. Think twice and don't. Your bubble is ranged such that you need to stay in proximity of your group. Let him get away, you'll get another chance.
Resurrect: Druids are the main healing class and their mana should be reserved to do those heals. Wardens, with a melee spec have a full bar of mana a lot of the time in RvR. With low Regrowth spec, let's be honest, you're not going to keep someone alive most of the time. Let the Druids and Bards do that. But, your mana is tremendously useful. You can rez two people easily, cast MCL if you have it and get up a third person. It's a great way to use your mana and it helps out your realm mates. Not to mention that you get bonus realm points for the resurrect.
Siege: Wardens are great at working siege. Because of the blade turn and scale armor usually a Warden can take hits from oil or enemies and be able to survive and get out of the way in time not to die. With capped strength and one Realm Skill Point in Lifter a Warden can carry two diminutive siege pieces easily. I always carry siege with me and how often it's needed in battle.
Infinite Sprint: Need to get away? With your Attack Unending instacast chant and the Long Wind I realm ability you can sprint forever. But before you use this think about your party. Sure you can get away, but you're leaving them and dropping the blade turn chant from them as well. Appropriately used this can get you away to resurrect your downed members after the battle. Switching to this chant for a few seconds out of battle is also a great way to quickly regenerate your endurance too.
Point Blank TWF to Escape: Overrun? Cast Thornwood Field at point blank range after sprinting away a bit. The enemy will get snared in it giving you a better chance to get away. But make sure you're be a bit away before casting as the first tick of TWF isn't instant.
Trials of Atlantis Master Levels
I selected the Perfector line as the choice for Pharaoh because of all the group beneficial master level abilities in the line. I think it's a great compliment to the skills and abilities a Warden has. I use the healing and power fonts in PvE and RvR all the time. In RvR the Dissonance Ward, or power penalty field is superb in tower and keep bottleneck situations and is something many Perfiectors don't think to cast. I also use the Determination Field, or croud control reduction field a good bit when attacking on the edge of a keep or tower. Cure nearsight and group cure disease are also great abilities in RvR and the Restore the Soul resurrect sickness cure is very important when getting that key damage dealer back up and in action after a death. Overall, I am very pleased with the Perfector master level line for a Warden.
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