Posted Wed, Mar 27, 2013 by gunky
Overall, it's kind of tough to play this class wrong, but there are some subtleties to master. Solo play is very similar to group play and shouldn't require a specialized toobar setup, but you may want to tailor your skill set to match the type of fights you are expecting.
This setup works best for general questing and running group content, where you will be expected to fight a lot of weaker mobs at once. Speed is not a big issue here, since you can take a bit of a beating before you run into any real danger.
Try Wicked Strike and Reaping Strike as your At-Will skills. Wicked Strike works for everything, but Reaping Strike is kind of an odd duck and is best reserved for use against groups of standard landscape mobs. Reaping Strike takes a bit to charge up, but when it is released it strikes everything all the way around the character, and will one-shot weak mobs.
For Encounter skills, try Not So Fast, Roar and Daring Shout. Not So Fast is a fairly powerful 360-degree swing that debuffs the targets' run speed, and is strong enough to one-shot weak mobs if it crits. Roar is a frontal cone attack that sounds like the lion roar at the end of those Harlem Shake videos, and pushes away any enemies caught in its cone. Daring Shout is an AoE debuff.
For Daily skills, there are no poor choices. Most of them are strong AoE attacks. The ones I used most often for group battles were Spinning Strike - not because it does stellar damage, but because I was a huge Tasmanian Devil fan when I was a kid - and Slam, which creates a hefty damage-over-time zone centered on the character while still allowing me to beat the crap out of stuff.
Speed and focused attacks are the key for solo boss battles. Channeled attacks like Reaping Strike are less effective against enemies with a lot of knockbacks and such, and wide-arc AoEs tend to do less damage to single targets.
I ended up using Sure Strike much more often against elites and bosses. This At-Will skill blasts two quick upward slashes at the target and follows up with a massive downward slam. The first two strikes are fast and deadly, and give me time to move out of the way of the enemy's next attack without sacrificing too much of my own damage output.
For Encounter powers, I found Restoring Strike to be outstanding. This is a nice ability to use right after you've ducked out of the path of an enemy's big channeled attack and can hit him from the flanks before it goes off. It gives a small self-heal, but more importantly, it does a truckload of damage and seems to have a high crit rate for big hits. Takedown is another good boss Encounter power, but moreso for landscape elites and other tough mobs that are not immune to knockdowns and CC. Mighty Leap and Punishing Charge are also decent for boss fights, allowing the Great Weapon Fighter to throw himself back into the thick of the fight after a knockback.
Because of my experience in the Tower District, chugging healing potions one after another like a raver guzzling Red Bull, I went with a Cleric Disciple as my first companion. I noticed the difference right away, and basically stopped using potions except during particularly challenging fights. The other pets are probably fine also if you don't mind supporting your nasty potion habit, but the healer pet is the only one I would choose.
The three paragon paths show a kind of playstyle split in the class. I went with the Destroyer path since it enhances damage output, but I could foresee buying feats in one of the other paths as well to augment my abilities. The Sentinel path bolsters the Great Weapon Fighter's defensive abilities, making him more capable of tanking, and affects how Unstoppable works as well.
For PvP matches, the ideal build will focus on tweaking Unstoppable - feats that increase Determination gain, for example - and on focused attacks rather than broad AOEs. PvP players don't tend to gang up in convenient clusters like enemy NPCs do, so strong single-target attacks are much more valuable. Mobility is also a chief factor, so the anti-controlling aspects of Unstoppable, combined with the Sprint ability and the effects of skills like Punishing Charge and Mighty Leap, make the Great Weapon Fighter a force to be reckoned with in Domination matches.
Did you figure out any cool tricks for the Great Weapon Fighter? Share them in our comments!