The Fighter has always been the staple adventuring class in Dungeons
& Dragons, the big dumb lug with the sword and heavy armor who gets
right up in the enemy's face and hits it until one of them dies. Back in
the weird old days of tabletop D&D, when classes had racial
restrictions, there was no species that was ineligible to be a Fighter.
The basic Fighter can take many forms, but in Neverwinter's
first public beta weekend, the Guardian Fighter class is
your straight-up sword-and-board melee tank. He is capable of dishing out
the hurt, but even more capable of taking it and being the last man
In addition to our hands-on experience with the class during the beta
weekend, we have a world-exclusive video montage of the Guardian Fighter
At first glance, there doesn't seem to be a lot of subtlety to a class
like the Guardian Fighter - he hurls himself at the enemy and batters them
to bits with heavy metal implements and ground-shaking fury. But that's
just the surface. Anybody can be a Guardian Fighter, but only the clever
and informed ones will be any good at it.
Guardian Fighter Class Overview
As a Guardian Fighter, you are the wall that stands between the enemy and
your allies. There are different paths the Guardian Fighter can take, but
even the more damage-dealing specs still rely fairly heavily on stout
defenses. Guardian Fighters wear the heaviest armor and carry big shields,
which they use both defensively and offensively. Ideally, this class has a
very large pool of Hit Points, and the means to keep those precious Hit
Blocking & Defense
As a primary melee tank class, the Guardian Fighter believes that the
best offense is a good defense. The Guard skill is
mapped to the Shift key, allowing the character to move around and block
most incoming damage with his raised shield. Movement while blocking is
slower than usual, but the trade-off is that actively blocking enemy
attacks is very effective. It doesn't just mitigate a percentage of damage,
and it doesn't require a roll. If you are Guarding, you automatically
block incoming blows, and when you block a blow, you take zero damage.
There are some kinds of attacks that simply can't be blocked - lingering
damage-over-time effects from poison, for example, or ground-based area
attacks like fire. But nearly everything else can be blocked - directed
magic, ranged attacks, special melee attacks and even certain effects like
knockbacks and stuns simply bounce harmlessly off the raised shield.
Blocking requires Stamina, and Stamina is sapped by
each successful block. The Stamina meter is the blue crescents to the left
of the character - as each blow is blocked, the crescents empty out until
they turn red. Small, regular attacks drain a tiny bit of Stamina, and
powerful boss attacks drain huge amounts. If the meter does turn red, the
character is unable to block until the Stamina bar is completely refilled
- that is, the character cannot block again until his Stamina meter has
gone all the way from 0 to 100%. This is clearly less than ideal for a
defense-based class, so the Guardian Fighter will need to strike a balance
between constant, impenetrable defense and keeping his Stamina bar from
Refilling Stamina requires using the shield to attack, using the
right-mouse-button shield attack or Encounter or Daily skills. It's
possible to keep your guard up and keep attacking at later levels when the
Guardian Fighter gets Shield Swipe, the right-button
attack that replaces the starting shield attack (Tide of Iron)
when actively defending. Each strike of Shield Swipe increases Stamina by
a tiny bit, and this can theoretically be used indefinitely against strong
mobs (provided they don't sap large amounts of Stamina with powerful
special attacks, which, of course, most of them do).
Of course, blocking isn't the only option for damage mitigation. Nearly
every enemy attack is announced beforehand - an animation buildup, a red
area effect ground indicator or even twinkling lights. The ones that
aren't announced in this manner are usually predictable anyway after a bit
of observation - standard mobs will run through a simple attack rotation,
with a strike coming at even time intervals. If your Stamina is low and
blocking isn't an option, these blows can be avoided by fancy footwork,
side-stepping and getting around the enemy's flanks. This is especially
effective against large enemies like ogres, which have slow but powerful
Threat generation is the bread and butter of the melee tank. Every attack
the Guardian Fighter makes generates some threat, but some generate more
than others. In particular, area-effect Encounter and Daily attacks
generate very large amounts of threat, but even Tide of Iron/Shield Swipe
generate a fairly high amount (or at least more than Cleave
or Stab, the basic left-click attacks). Group-spec
Guardian Fighters will want to spend their Feat points on higher threat
generation when available.
Additionally, there are a few Encounter skills that taunt enemies for
forced attacks. Enforced Threat, for example, deals area
damage and taunts all enemies within range, forcing them to attack the
Guardian Fighter for the duration of the effect. Knight's
Challenge is situationally useful - it is also a forced-attack
taunt, but the taunted enemy deals significantly more damage while
taunted, which can be quite painful during boss fights.
Another option is the Mark ability, mapped to the Tab
key, which paints a big red X on the target. The marked creature suffers a
mitigation debuff when attacking anyone but the Guardian Fighter who
marked it. It's not quite the same thing as generating threat, but it's
definitely a useful tanking skill.
Guardian Fighters use medium melee weapons, shields and plate armor.
During the first beta weekend, medium melee weapons were largely limited
to longswords. I did, however, manage to find a battleaxe, which I used
for a while, so it feels safe to assume that the live game will feature
weapons other than just the longsword.
There are a few different enchantment types that can really benefit the
Guardian Fighter. Power is useful to enhance the class's relatively low
damage output, and armor penetration helps to bypass some enemy damage
mitigation to make hits count for slightly more. One of the most useful
enchants is life stealing, which returns a small portion of damage dealt
as healing. At very small numbers, this enchantment is nearly meaningless,
but stacking life stealing allows the Guardian Fighter to attack a little
more aggressively without worrying about his health dropping.
The most important stat for the Guardian Fighter is CON, which
contributes to Hit Point total and to physical resistance saving throws.
STR is second, as it contributes to damage output. All other stats have
more or less equal value to the Guardian Fighter, since they all
contribute to defenses in some way. Welcome to the homogenous mush of 4th
Tips & Tricks
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
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
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
Did you learn any Guardian Fighter tips or tricks you would like to
share? Let us know in our comments!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Neverwinter Game Page.