Guild Wars 2 Armor Guide – Basic Naming Conventions & Runes

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So I’ll be honest; I wrote this mostly for myself, because for whatever reason the naming conventions on armor in Guild Wars 2 had me completely befuddled until I had it explained to me like I’m 5 years old by my twitter krewe.

I figured if I went ahead and wrote an article on it, I could hit three birds with one post. First, by writing it out, I’d remember it better. Second, I’ll now always have this to come back to when I get confused again (and let’s face it- that’s gonna happen). Third, it’s now available for all the world to see just in case there are other players like me.

So, here’s hopin’ it’s useful!

I’m focusing on armor, here, as weapons do differ slightly, but most of the core ideas apply to them, too.

Why understanding the naming conventions is important

I guess, technically, it’s NOT required since you can just hover over items to see what they get you. But having a general / better idea of how gear is named and what it all means will make finding what you’re looking for specifically faster and easier. I’m not suggesting we memorize every single name and what stats that refers to, although if you WANT to, nobody’s gonna stop ya.

Honestly, though, it’s extremely helpful at higher levels, since you’re more likely to want to have more than one set for different roles or play styles.

Also; it makes you feel smart, and who doesn’t like that?

So let’s start with the basics.

Basic Gear Overview

Gear comes in six quality tiers (or, rarity as they are referred to in game): basic (white), fine (blue), masterwork (green), rare (gold) , exotic (orange), and legendary (red, which is currently limited to weapons). The higher the rarity, the better the gear generally is.

Each quality tier is present at different level spans. Basic is 1+, fine 5+, masterwork 14+, rare 35+, exotic 62+, and legendary is 80+. The number of primary attributes depends on the level span. One attribute for levels 1-20, two for 21-60, and three for 61+.

Guild Wars 2 Armor Guide - Rarity Level Span

Guild Wars 2 Armor Guide - Basic Level Attributes

Naming and Attributes

Basic quality gear is simply named by <skin><piece> and will always carry the primary attributes of:
• Power (levels 1-20)
• Precision (added with levels 21-60)
• % Crit. (added with levels 61-80)

They can drop with or without upgrade slots. They’re available to purchase from armor merchants but will not have upgrade slots if bought from a vendor.

The basic breakdown of your average fine+ quality piece of gear is:


<prefix> – Denotes the inherent primary stat attributes of the gear.
<skin name> – Cosmetic; lets you know which “skin set” the gear is part of, so how it will look. If you’re a stickler about staying true to full sets that match, this is the name to keep an eye on.
<piece> – Where on the body this armor goes. (giggidy)
<suffix> – Secondary stat attributes. This is where things start to get fun.

This second group of bonus stats are determined by upgrades. All gear has a single upgrade slot you can fill with one of many options – gems & jewels, marks, talisman, seals, medallions, & crests, and finally runes  (or sigils, for weapons). The suffix will then update and/or change based on what you put in it.

Runes have a special property in that they are often better and/or tailored to a specific role (bonus damage on a specific type of enemy, for instance), but require more than one of the same set to be more effective, where other upgrade options are independent of one another and carry basic set of standard attributes.

[click to expand]

Working With Runes

The number of bonus set/required pieces depends on the rarity of the rune.  To fulfill these stats, you need to upgrade several pieces of armor with multiples of the same rune.
This will usually be <…of…> or <…of the…>.

So, for instance, a major rune <…of the traveler> gear will always give you:
(1): +7% Magic Find
(2): +10 Vitality
(3): +13% Magic Find
(4): +25 Vitality

You cannot mix different tiers of the same kind: so having both a minor rune of the traveler and a major rune of the traveler will give you the (1) bonus for each but not the (2) for either.

Also keep in mind, you want to apply the same rune to multiple, different pieces of armor to get the bonuses! Trying to apply a rune to the same piece of armor will only replace / override the upgrade that was originally there.

As the quality increases with each of the 3 tiers, the number of stats / required runes increases, as well as the attribute bonus values. Level requirements raise with each, as well.

Check out GW2 Wiki’s list of runes: you can find exactly what stat combos you are looking for to search for armor that already has the runes you want or the runes themselves!


Indeed! If you wanna take things further, I’m gonna point you guys to Tasha’s fabulous and well-written guide on equipment and attributes here; there’d be no point in me reiterating what she’s already done 100x better than I could ever do.

She takes explaining gear to the next level in detailed wonderfulness. The amount of information she provides may seem daunting, but it’s actually a lot easier to grasp than you might initially think.

So there you have it, ladies and gents. I hope this basic breakdown is helpful to understanding the core of how gear ticks. If you’ve got any additional comments, suggestions, or corrections for this, feel free to leave some feedback down below, tweet me, or pop us an e-mail at talktryia[a]


Special Thanks: to all the fine people on twitter who answered my newb questions: Durinthal, Greibach, M4dm1nLT, Hunter , the lovely Tasha, MrEx, Hawkinsa1, and Seifur.

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About the author: Izari’s one of those obsessive fan types who’s been playing Guild Wars since the first beta weekend in 2004. She’s been blogging about video games since 2005 and is thrilled to have fellow fans to write for and with about this series in particular. She can be found on twitter and may or may not think she’s the avatar. Deal with it. 

Further reading:

  • Saline

    you guys are busy today… nice post, btw. It is indeed a very basic guide, but I think it makes things clear and easy to understand. 

    it’s kind of short. so you could have gone into a little more detail about the different upgrades other than runes, maybe? also, gw2db does have legendary quality gear in there (mistfire i think) but it doesn’t look like there’s much info on that yet. 
    sounds like pvp gear to me, maybe

    • izziebot

      Hey, thanks.
      Yeah I had considered doing a more detailed post on the different upgrades but I thought it’d get a little convoluted. I wanted to focus on runes because of how they work (being a little complex).

      But, this definitely gives me a lead on a second post about general upgrades. I’m just worried it’d be redundant (it’s all stuff you can find on the wiki, really).

      Also; yeah, I did see those legendary pieces on the DB, too. I tried looking them up, though, and found no information — my guess is you’re right about them being PvP, possibly rewards for the paid tournaments. 

  • Grubcat

    Thanks for laying this out nicely for us. I like reading an article like this,rather than using the wiki or database (although I do that too). This confirmed some hazy ideas I had about runes, sets, etc that I had not been motivated enough yet to look up to be sure I understood them correctly. 

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  • Vinelight

    Oooh, thanks for posting this! I’ve been slowly trying to piece this together in my head, and feeling like a total spaz.