The Month of the Guardian is here! Guardians are receiving attention to both their primary tanking role and secondary damage-per-second role. We hope you'll enjoy these changes and the new depth they bring to the role of the Guardian.
Already the hardiest class in Middle-earth, the Guardian is able to withstand relentless onslaughts. Capable of maintaining a high level of threat generation, only the foolish and overly aggressive dare try to outpace them. Where this class is weakest is the ability to actually kill their foes.
We do believe that Guardians perform their core tanking role well. The changes in the Month of the Guardian are largely designed to provide interesting and viable alternative playstyles for the class while addressing core concerns such as repair costs and offensive stances.
We've added some new tools to the Guardian's tanking toolbox, the first being Shield Wall: the ability to protect a single target from incoming attacks (though leaping in front of attacks doesn't allow the Guardian to mitigate any of the damage on himself!). The goal of Shield Wall is to allow the Guardian to save someone in trouble by standing in harm's way.
We also wanted to add a single-target ranged taunt to the Guardian's repertoire. This comes in the form of Fray the Edge, which also increases the chance of random conjunction opportunities on signature (and above) monsters with each successful application.
Shield Taunt's functionality is also going to be changing, since due to some technical limitations this skill wasn't functioning as we expected. It will now provide a large threat add; previously it had a negligible threat add, but would bump the Guardian to the top of the threat list. Shield Taunt will now be much more effective at letting the Guardian generate additional threat, but will be less effective at digging the Guardian out of a deep hole.
We know that some changes to tanking are sure to be controversial, and we'll be keeping an open dialogue on them in the Guardian forums.
The first of these changes is to Deep Breath. A miscommunication during development led to the skill's reset being faster than the traited resets of the skills it refreshes. To address this we've increased the base reset of both the skill and the traited version. We are fully aware that Deep Breath's fast reset has become a key component of strategies to defeat some of the higher end instance bosses, and we are closely monitoring the impact this change will have on some of the very difficult fights on Isengard and will continue to do so on the live servers. It is not our intent to make these fights more difficult, but we understand that the Deep Breath change may have this result. It is our expectation that the new and updated skills in the Guardian's repertoire will greatly compensate for this reduced frequency of use. After we have additional feedback from players and data gathered from live we'll decide what if any future changes need to be made.
During Book 12's development, Catch a Breath was changed to have a faster action time and to deliver its attack hook at the beginning of the animation instead of the end. This change was made to improve the usability of the skill. However, it also revealed that players were previously able to use both Catch a Breath and Shield Swipe after a single block event. All of our combat event skills remove the event they require, and now Catch a Breath is functioning correctly in that regard. We understand that this will decrease the utility of Catch a Breath, but Guardians still have more healing in Book 12 than they did previously -- as Warrior's Heart now completely heals all the morale it adds to max morale.
We've been through extensive discussions both internally and with the Isengard testers about the potential issues associated with these changes and are confident that these changes will result in a more rewarding and enjoyable play experience. We will of course continue to monitor their impact as time goes on.
We've created a new stance for the Guardian, called Overpower, that focuses on 2-handed weapon use. This stance is mutually exclusive from the Guardian's other stances, and increases the Guardian's melee damage output at the cost of power and defensive abilities. While in this stance the Guardian also gains access to several new skills. Force Opening does damage and opens up a parry response event on a successful hit. Stagger does damage, and slows a target's movement and attacks speeds on a critical hit and when used from behind.
In addition to these, Guardians will also receive a new skill called Salt the Wound. This skill can be used at any time to do a small amount of damage, but when it is used directly after the Thrust skill it turns the weak Thrust Bleed into a very strong bleed.
Repair costs have always been high for Guardians. When they're doing their job correctly, they're getting hit more than anyone else in a party, and since they also take a long time to kill monsters they're hit more during solo battles as well. To address this we've taken a few steps to reduce the Guardian's overall burden. Heavy shields now cost a little more than half of what they previously cost to repair. In addition each of the Guardian's stances now reduces the number of item wear events that the Guardian receives. Guardian's Ward also reduces item wear events from hits when its effect is active, with the traited version reducing the number of events by 10%. Overall these changes should reduce the amount Guardians are spending on repairs, while at the same time Overpower should allow Guardians to generate income more quickly.
While not as cost effective, Guardians will receive the ability to summon a tinker to the campsites located near major instances. This travelling tinker will repair items at a price that reflects the higher value of the service he provides.