Guardians of Middle-earth have been patiently waiting for news of their coming update in Book 12. They recently got just that as Vanessa "Saffron" Price, Online Community Specialist for The Lord of the Rings Online posted a new Developer's Corner update detailing all the changes coming to the Guardian class in the "Month of the Guardian" update. The announcement is still resonating within the Guardian community as some are enthusiastic about the new changes, and others are a little dismayed.
One of the most controversial changes coming to the Guardian class involves the skill Deep Breath. This skill allows the Guardian to use it to reset the timer on some of their skills allowing them to be used again immediately. The current timer for this skill is five minutes and two and a half minutes if you use the Strong Lungs trait. When the month of the Guardian update goes live, this skills timer will change to fifteen minutes for the untraited version and seven minutes and thirty seconds for the traited version. This is a huge change and will affect all Guardians to some extent as this was a highly used skill that could save a Guardian in a pinch. This change has not been the most popular of the list and there is a debate raging on the forums even now.
Deep Breath aside, the Guardians are receiving several new skills and a new stance during this update. These new changes will aid the Guardian greatly as some not only improve upon the Guardians defensive capabilities, but they also can increase his damage output and reduce the damage to his armor. That alone is a noteworthy aspect of this update. Let's take a look at how these new skills will impact the Guardians of Middle-earth.
Shield Wall is possibly the best new defensive skill the Guardian will be receiving. This is essentially a panic button that will allow the Guardian to use himself as a shield to protect a single target from all incoming damage. There is however a downside. When a Guardian enters this protective form, he is unable to mitigate any damage from the attacks directed at his protected target, so he will take the full brunt of that damage. The Guardian will also suffer from a power drain as long as he maintains this skill. The overall purpose of this skill is to be an emergency utility to save an ally about to fall. While it certainly has its downsides, this skill will be a useful component in many difficult encounters. It could be the deciding factor in a wipe or a near wipe turned into a victory.
Fray The Edge
Fray the Edge is a new ranged taunt ability that will allow a Guardian to try and pull back a creature that may have left their melee range. The range on this is said to be 25m (Corrected: Thanks Hakai.). This skill also has a few extra benefits that makes it useful in other situations. Aside from being a strong single target taunt, this skill will allow the Guardian to increase the chance that a random Fellowship Maneuver can be started on a signature or higher creature. This will prove to be a very popular skill in difficult encounters and even raids. You can never go wrong with an increased chance to trigger a conjunction at a key moment. Again, this is a skill that could bring about the chance to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. If you have multiple Guardians it gets better as the effects of this skill will stack to increase your chances of a random conjunction even further.
Defense is not the only order on the books for the Guardian. The offensive powers are getting a work over as well with a new stance called "Overpower." The new stance will increase the damage output of the Guardian by 15%. However, this skill and increased damage comes at a cost. The Guardians Block skill will be disabled, evade will be reduced by 5% and the power cost of each skill will be increased by 20%. The biggest issue I can see with this will be power. With a 20% increase and the fact Guardians are not really built for power may lead to the need for fate and will based gear or even a juggling of various traits to increase power regeneration. This tradeoff may in the end be too much for the Guardian to sacrifice for a little extra dps, but time will tell the tale. There will be some new skills that can be performed while in Overpower stance only.
This new offensive skill will allow you to open up a Parry Response on a successful hit. Assuming you hit the target, you will then be able to execute one of your parry response skills such as Retaliation or Thrust. Given how dependent a Guardian will be on damage in this stance every little bit will help.
Stagger will debuff a target by slowing their movement and attack speed on a successful hit. The downside is that the successful hit to trigger this debuff has to be landed from behind. Unless the creature is fleeing from you, this will do you little good while soloing, but it may come in handy if you are a damage tank in a fellowship. It could serve as a method to gimp your opponentâ€™s damage output by slowing their attack speed.
Salt the Wound
Ever since the early days of Middle-earth Guardians have wooed the weak attack known as Thrust. This new skill is designed to put a little more power behind that attack. When you land a successful Thrust attack on an opponent, you can use Salt the Wound to add some extra damage to its bleed effect. Exactly how much more damage this will add to the damage over time (DOT) effect is anyone's guess at this point, but maybe it will be worth using.
One True Bonus
One true bonus to this update that every Guardian can appreciate is the ability to reduce damage to our gear and some decreased repair cost on certain armor pieces like Heavy Shields. This has been a long time burden for all Guardians, but with this update, certain skills like Overpower, Guardian's Ward, Guardian's Defense, Guardian's Threat, and Guardian's Parry will reduce item wear to some extent making the Guardian's of Middle-earth a lot less poor. You can even trait certain skills to have them increase the reduction benefit of these skills.
Guardians will also be acquiring two utility skills that may have mixed benefits.
Summon Tinker will allow the Guardian to summon a Tinkerer to a Hunter camp point to repair items and gear for the Fellowship. This comes with a cost however, as the Tinkerer does not work cheap.
Engage will be a useful tool in groups and raids, but as one person on the official forums calls it, "A self imposed death sentence in the Ettenmoores." This skill will place the Guardian at the top of a creatures hate list, but slow the Guardians speed to 85% of its normal rate, but the creature will be slowed to 75% of its normal speed rate. Having a 5m range this can be a useful skill for group play, but due to its speed altering effects, you may want to avoid this in the Ettenmoores, unless you want to become a rather slow sitting duck.
The Guardian's will be getting some useful skills with their update, but power concerns could be a legitimate problem as it relates to the offensive stance. While many of these skills will make a welcome addition to the Guardian's role both offensively and defensively, there are several areas of concern that could cause some future issues. The Deep Breath increase seems a bit extreme and the power cost for the offensive stance may leave most Guardian's running back to their shield the first time they find themselves standing on the battlefield screaming, "Out of Power!" Power issues aside, the update seems to be a decent one and the Guardian will be getting plenty of new skills. Just don't look to these to increase your PvP effectiveness as most of these skills will only benefit the
PvE aspect of the Guardian.
What does this all mean for the Guardian class? For one thing, we will be getting a new assortment of skills both offensive and defensive, but those skills will come at a cost. Due to increased power consumption, some Guardians wishing to engage in a more offensive role, may need to rework their builds a bit. Fate and Will could play a more significant role for offensive Guardians. This will however carry a high impact on both mitigation and hitpoints. To be offensive this will be the price you must pay, but on the upside, you will be able to deal more damage. The decision of whether this tradeoff is worth it or not is up to you.