Updated Thu, Feb 14, 2013 by gunky
There are a few ways to get the most out of the Guardian Fighter, depending on your preferred style of play. Because there is very limited space on the skill toolbar (three Encounter Powers mapped to Q, E and R, two Daily Powers mapped to 1 and 2, the Tab power and the basic right and left mouse button attacks), solo players will want to use a slightly different skill setup than group players.
Solo players will want to maximize their damage output, slotting more offensive skills on their toolbar. Villain's Menace, for example, is a very useful Daily Power for soloing - a big, strong area effect attack. Enforced Threat is a good Encounter Power for either solo or group - again, a strong area-effect attack. Griffon's Wrath and Knee Breaker make excellent single-target choices, particularly useful during boss fights.
Fighter's Recovery is incredibly handy to have, regardless of spec - for 10 seconds, the Guardian Fighter heals himself with every point of damage he deals, and is immune to damage and status effects for the duration. This is an incredibly useful recovery skill to help with a tough boss fight - hit Fighter's Recovery, hurl yourself at a group of mobs and start spamming Cleave and other area-effect attacks.
For group-oriented players, a slightly different setup will work better. Lunging Strike is more useful in a group setting, allowing the tank to be the first one into the fight, or to dash quickly across the melee to intercept an ally's attacker. Knight's Challenge is really only useful in a group setting, since threat generation and taunting is essentially a null issue when soloing.
When approaching a single tough mob, whether it be a dungeon boss or a solitary ogre roaming around in a pubic zone, the Guardian Fighter will want to strike first and then defend immediately to brace against a heavy retaliation. Tough mobs and bosses tend to have hard-hitting attacks that chew through Stamina very quickly, so it is essential to balance blocking with other defensive moves.
A good opener is:
Lunging Strike to close in quickly and strike first > Guard and/or sidestep to avoid the first retaliatory attack> Knee Breaker to slow movement and apply a damage-over-time effect > run around flank to avoid big attacks > Guard and Stab/Shield Swipe from the flank
Boss enemies often have big frontal area-effect attacks that take a long time to complete. There is usually time to run around behind the enemy and get a few quick basic attacks if the player moves as soon as the big red indicator shows up. It is important to note, however, that the Guardian Fighter will need to temporarily drop his Guard while attempting this - if he keeps his shield up, he will not move fast enough and will end up blocking the attack instead of avoiding it, potentially wiping out a large amount of Stamina in the process. Drop the shield and run sideways - never backwards - and the boss enemy will usually miss the attack.
The Guardian Fighter has plenty of area-effect attacks, starting right away at level 1 with the basic left-click attack, Cleave. This makes the class uniquely suited to dealing with large groups of mobs right out of the gate. At later levels, when big, powerful area attacks are added to the repertoire, big group battles get even better.
As a general rule, the best strategy when dealing with a large group of enemies is to take out the weaker targets first and save the toughest ones for last. Focusing on the strong enemies first means the weak ones are attacking for much longer, doing more damage than they need to. Take them out first and you can focus your entire attention on the stronger monsters later.
For a typical landscape encounter with a few weak mobs and one tough
leader, a strong opening salvo is:
Enforced Threat to soften all the normal mobs > Knee Breaker on the tough mob > Cleave (or Stab) until all the weaker mobs are dead > Griffon's Wrath on the leader
This combo should pretty much wipe out most standard landscape groups before they have a chance to deal any serious damage.
There are a couple of options for the Guardian Fighter's first companion. The obvious choice is the Cleric Disciple, who will toss out a few light heals during fights and add a bit of survivability. This makes the tank even tankier, able to absorb more punishment than normal. But the heals are quite small and infrequent, Fighter's Recovery and cheap potions can be used to make them redundant, and the cleric companion is a squishy aggro magnet. Some players will find that a DPS companion will contribute slightly more to the fights, enhancing the Guardian Fighter's relatively-low damage output and making the fights shorter overall.
At level 30, you will need to choose a Paragon path. Essentially, what you will be choosing is whether you want to focus more on defense or offense. There are three options available. The Conqueror tree will likely be better for solo players, giving them more firepower rather than defense. The Guardian tree is not so much about defense as it is about soaking more damage, a good choice for group-spec tank types. The Tactician tree is for those players who prefer to fight smarter rather than harder, exercising more control over the battlefield and keeping enemies positioned and facing where they want them. Again, this one is better for a group spec - threat management is essentially meaningless for solo players.
Did you learn any Guardian Fighter tips or tricks you would like to share? Let us know in our comments!