You’re standing on the edge of your keep wall, peering over the crenelations into the morass of writhing bodies, baying for blood below. Your commander shouts directions to the troops: “Man the cannons! Push them back!” Your allies rush along the length of the walls, dropping fire and arrows on the invaders below, but they just keep coming. Agitated, your grip tightens around the edge of your shield.
“Get that siege up! And for Dwayna’s sake step back from the edge!” but the command comes too late – you catch the eye of an unsuspecting sylvari: too concerned with building her arrow cart to notice she has strayed within reach of the scorpion wires and deflective walls from the enemies at the base of the wall. In an instant she is gone, enveloped into the chaos below.
You have to act fast – the ground troops in the keep’s courtyard could get the soldier back on her feet if only there weren’t seventy angry invaders clawing at her from all sides. She has a split second of invulnerability before she is lost, but you only need a second more to save her… if only the path were clear. You grip the arm-guard of your shield and, taking a running jump, leap over the wall’s edge.
Landing in the tumult below, you stumble – that was a long fall. A protective symbol sprouts from your feet and spreads across the ground around you soothing some of the pain and burning your enemies. Standing over your downed comrade, you crouch into a protective stance and activate your shield of absorption – a pale blue light erupts from your shield. The sheer force of the mystical energy drives the surrounding enemies back. You now stand alone over your ally, a clear ring of ground between yourself and the enemy. Arrows and fireballs fly from the twisting mass of opposing bodies – but each bounces uselessly against your bubble, sending waves of energy across the entire dome, like ripples on a millpond. You hear the keep gate open behind you; your allies rush out and pull the sylvari to her feet. “Retreat!” you shout, spurring your allies into a sprint back towards the gate.
For me, this is the most satisfying part of being a guardian. There is no more pleasing sight than 50 arrows bouncing limply against my Shield of Absorption. You, effectively, take out roughly 1/3 of an armies’ firepower with just one skill AND you can activate it a second time during its duration to heal all allies AND seeing as it is a “light” field any projectiles which pass through it will heal conditions on allies! What’s not to like?
What is even better is chaining shields with another guardian to provide a full 8 seconds (or even more, with more guardians) of protection for a downed ally. I was doing this with a player I met called Sigma in the Aurora Glade Borderlands a couple of weeks ago. We were directing our troops back and forth from our keep gate to the enemy main base – each time one of our allies fell we run up and Sigma would begin to heal and I’d pop my shield, after 4 seconds we would swap. It pretty much guaranteed that we would be able to get the ally back on their feet almost every time.
For complete protection, you can also slot “Sanctuary” – a tier 3 slot skill – which provides a much smaller but much more effective shield which, in addition to blocking projectiles, also makes sure enemies cannot get within melee range. The only issue with this skill is it’s prohibitively long recharge, and the 1.5 second cast time. It’s not as effective as a “quick fix”, but you can drop Shield of Absorption and then use some of the protection that provides to effectively position yourself and cast Sanctuary. Sanctuary also heals and doesn’t need you to maintain it, so once it is up, you’re free to move, resurrect, attack etc.
Both of these skills are extremely effective if used correctly. Drop your shield at a choke point (such as the archway leading to the South Western supply camp in the Borderlands) to stop your allies from being mowed down as they attempt to push through. Push multiple enemies towards the edge of a cliff, away from a gate (from the inside) or off your tail when being pursued, with the knock-back effect.
The majority of the guardian population seems to have an infatuation with the greatsword. I get it – who doesn’t like swinging their large weapon around, after all? But the humble shield needs to get a bit of love, if only for this one skill. I firmly believe that it is the most useful tool in the guardian’s arsenal.
To the reader: Which is the skill which you most enjoy using with your profession? Do you use a “sword and board” with your guardian, or do you find you’re better off with a different weapon set?
About the author: Distilled (Will) has just started his PhD so will soon (well, in 4 years time) be Dr Distilled. In his spare time he enjoys first being the Talk Tyria ranger writer, then having a falling out with his drakehound and divorcing his ranger and moving in with a guardian . He writes regularly on Guild Wars and gaming over at Distilled Willpower. You can also follow him on Twitter at@Distilledwill!