This guide discusses my “Captain Hammer” build for GW2 Warrior. When I visualize a captain on the battlefield, I picture a leader bellowing orders, boosting the morale of those under his command, and serving as a rallying point. The name is also a tribute to Whedon’s hilarious Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
Stand back everyone, nothing here to see
Just imminent danger, in the middle of it, me
Yes, Captain Hammer’s here, hair blowing in the breeze
And the day needs my saving expertise
This build provides good AOE healing and AOE buffs via shouts, excellent sustained CC capability, high direct damage mitigation with 1810 toughness, damage that steadily increases over time (via stacking of might boons), and high uptime on Weakness debuffs. Therefore, this spec excels at supporting friendlies and “tanking” enemies in sPvP.
I came up with this build after reading an awesome thread by Vorsakan discussing Warrior healing on the GW2Guru Warrior forum. That got me theorycrafting about the possibilities for a shout-based Warrior.
For a more offensive and less support-oriented build that still provides good sustained CC, see my “Hammer Gun” build.
As people have often asked me how I come up with builds, I’ll walk you through my thinking process from start to finish.
Build Calculator and Gear
sPvP Build: http://www.intothemists.com/calc/?build=-ss-BC0-VKkN0_47L-60;9;6JTJ;409-57B39-S-F66;1ZF18ZF183Nx
Amulet + Jewel: Cleric’s + Cleric’s: 923 healing | 644 power | 644 toughness
Runes: 6 x Rune of the Soldier: 165 vitality| 50 toughness | shouts remove conditions
- Hammer and Mace mainhand: Superior Sigil of Battle You gain 3 stacks of might for 20s when you swap to this weapon while in combat. This is a good choice, given that the boons last 26s with this build and synergize with Empowered
- Mace offhand: Superior Sigil of Bloodlust Power each time you kill a foe. (max 25 stacks and ends on down)
PVE Build: http://www.intothemists.com/calc/?build=-ss-70;0VKkN0_47L-60;9;49-TT-4;309A17B;1S-F6;2ZF18ZF183NP
For PVE, I replace Mace/Mace with Rifle, as some boss fights are much safer to manage from range, and the trait mix is 10/0/30/30/0 instead of 0/0/20/30/20. The reason I moved the 20 points out of Discipline is that weapon swaps in PVE do not matter to the same extent as in PVP. You can replace “Shake It Off!” with “On My Mark!” to support focus fire on bosses.
Thinking Through the Traits
When designing a build, I almost always start with a fundamental capability I want to feature in the build. In this case, it was shout-based healing.
The healing trait Vigorous Shouts is a 3rd tier trait in the Tactics lines, so to heal via shouts requires 30 points in Tactics. The 2nd tier trait is a no-brainer: Lung Capacity for the decreased shout cooldowns. For the 1st tier trait, I chose Empowered over Empowered Allies, as Empowered synergizes well with the multiple boons from shouts.
The Defense trait line provides toughness and compassion. Compassion is the heal-boosting stat, and toughness makes your self-healing last longer (more on this later). Therefore, the stats provided by Defense synergize well with the spec. The question is whether to go with 20, 25, or 30 points in Defense. In the 2nd tier of Defense, you can pick up the excellent trait Merciless Hammer, as the hammer is one of the best weapons in terms of CC in the game. I decided to use hammer for one weapon set and mace/mace for the other. These weapons provide 2 stuns, 2 knockdowns, a knockback, and sustained weakness condition application. This CC capability sounds like a great complement for a support build – you can control your target and debuff their damage while you and allies beat on them. I personally prefer Merciless Hammer over Sundering Mace, because the hammer provides 3 CCs to the mace’s 2.
Let’s look at the 3rd tier traits for Defense:
- Defy Pain: activates Endure Pain at 25% health. This won’t be needed given the amount of healing and CC provided with this build
- Spiked Armor: provides 5s of Retaliation when crit, with an internal cooldown of 15 seconds. The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
- Therefore, I decided not to invest in the 3rd tier traits for this spec and stop at 20 points
The two stuns are triggered from the burst abilities Earthshaker and Skull Crack, so it’s vital to build adrenaline as quickly as possible to maximize the stun duration when using those abilities. Therefore in the 1st tier of Defense I take Embrace the Pain, which builds adrenaline when you are hit.
That leaves 20 trait points left to invest, and I invested them in the Discipline tree to pick up the following traits
- Warrior’s Sprint, which provides a movement increase when wielding melee weapons. This is an important selection, as the ranged capability of this spec is limited, so WS will help to close the gap to targets to melee them
- Inspiring Shouts, which causes shouts to build adrenaline – about three-quarters of a bar
- Fast Hands, which allows weapon swap every 5s instead of 10s
Thinking Through the Utility and Elite Skills
For the healing skill, Mending is a no-brainer. Ditto for Signet of Rage for the elite skill.
For the utilities, given that this is a shout-based spec, I slot 3 shouts:
- “For Great Justice!” (FGJ) provides AOE boons for Fury and Might, and these buffs last 10s for Fury and 26s for Might given the 30 points in Tactics
- “Shake It Off!” (SIO) provides AOE condition removal and a stun break
- FGJ and SIO have a net 20-sec cooldown
- For the 3rd trait, given the buff in BWE3 to “Fear Me!” it’s a great choice. Because the shout is instant cast with no weapon animation, you can use the fear bomb while using another ability or channel, such as reviving or finishing a target
Thinking Through the Gear Selection
In terms of gear, I want to focus on 3 primary stats – compassion (healing), toughness (mitigation), and power (direct damage) – and vitality (HP) as a secondary stat:
- Compassion and toughness synergize well: you take less direct damage, so self-healing is more meaningful. To put it another way, high healing coupled with low toughness does not synergize well, since even though you heal for a lot you quickly lose that HP when taking damage
- I don’t want this spec to be impotent in terms of damage, so while this is not a DPS spec, with some power stacked it can provide functional damage.
Given these 2 bullet points, the Cleric’s Amulet and Jewel fit well.
The 6-pc set bonus from the Runes of the Soldier provide awesome synergy with a shout-based spec, because each shout removes conditions.
With respect to Sigils, the crit-based ones are out of the question since this spec has the baseline low crit chance of 4%. Therefore, the stat bonus, weapon swap, and miscellaneous sigils are the only ones worth considering. This spec has a +30% duration to boons, so the Superior Sigil of Battle seemed like an attractive choice – in practice the build can sustain 10+ stacks of might via frequent weapon swaps. The Superior Sigil of Bloodlust enables you to build up to 250 Power from killing opponents.
- HP: 23,022
- Attack (Power): 2671 (1,560)
- Crit Chance (Precision) | Crit Multiplier: 4% (916) | 1.7x
- Armor (Toughness): 3,021 (1,810)
- Healing: 1,123
The Vigorous Shouts trait heals for 1192 base + 80% compassion, so each shout AOE heals for 2090 HP. Keep in mind 2 of the shouts have a 20s cooldown. So we’re talking about good AOE sustained healing throughput.
Also, consider the incredible “GCD efficiency” for shouts with this spec (and yes I know there is no GCD in GW2, read on), i.e. look all what happens when you activate a shout:
- You AOE heal for 2090 HP
- You remove a condition (SIO also provides an AOE condition removal)
- You gain adrenaline – about three-quarters of a bar
- Obviously, you get the shout’s effects
- If the shout provides boons, you get bonus damage from Empowered
The shout-based mechanics for this build are a terrific example of what I call “synergistic mechanics”, i.e. there are a lot of mechanics that complement each other to provide a greater sum effect.
The crit % for the spec is a paltry 4%, which increases to 24% when the fury boon is up. Still, that’s a low crit chance. However, the damage with the spec increases over time with the Sigils of Superior Battle. Every time you swap weapons you stack 3 might (105 power) for 26 seconds, so in prolonged fighting it can sustain 10+ stacks of might just from SoSB and FGJ.
Narrated PVP Videos
Videos listed in reverse chronological order.
My first PVP video after launch, with this build in a 5v5 tourney finals match:
I describe the traits, gear selection, and mechanics of the spec and I provide illustrative gameplay footage from Structured PVP.
- 2013/02/18: updated to use Superior Sigil of Bloodlust on offhand Mace
- 2012/12/03: added PVE build
- 2012/10/01: updated build links to use intothemists.com’s calculator
- 2012/09/24: minor edits throughout, in preparation of posting on official Warrior forum
- 2012/09/01: added first post-launch video of a 5v5 tourney finals match
- 2012/07/26: updated per BWE3. The two changes are 1. selecting Merciless Hammer, since the traits for hammer and mace were changed, and 2. selecting “Fear Me!” over “I Will Avenge You!”, as the fear bomb was buffed and provides significant control value
- 2012/06/27: added 1st narrated video
- 2012/06/21: based on feedback, I now know that the mace burst ability’s stun is capped at 2s not 4s. This was a nerf for BWE2. Given that, I decided to drop Unsuspecting Foe and transfer the 10 points in Arms to Discipline, to pick up Inspiring Shouts and Fast Hands. Given the shift in emphasis from stuns for the build, I also changed the offhand from Shield for Mace, for the additional knockdown and the vulnerability debuff.
For more Guild Wars 2 content, subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter.
This build still viable?
I dislike the term “viable”… as it means different things to different people. It’s not optimal, but it’s still fun. There have been a few changes to traits and skills that you’d want to mess around with.
Shout based warriors are the backbone of GvG and called “workers” due to their condition cleansing, CC and warbanner in the EU.
In NA, I’ve seen the evolution of the shout based build to use S/S + LB + Settlers (conditions) as a tremendous team carrier in Solo arenas. It is a support build that can actually wear people down.
So Taugrim, after 2 years, your theory crafting is solid and still remains a viable corner of the GW2 build spectrum (though the spectrum could have been much wider).