As I said in my previous article, the combination of a one-handed weapon with an off-handed weapon allows for some incredible versatility in combat, and choosing the correct tools of the trade can offer a significant advantage to your and your party’s combat potential. While you generally won’t get as much damage from these weapons, the utility they offer is essential in any fight.
The focus fulfills a similar role to the mace in the guardian’s arsenal, combining damage with defense and healing with harming in equal measures. It allows for long-range support while also giving utility to close-range combat. However it should be noted that due to the long cooldowns on both of the skills, it shouldn’t be used as the only form of support if you are relying on it for that purpose.
Ray of Judgement is a simple, but surprisingly effective skill that can have multiple uses. Enemies struck will be damaged for a minor amount, but more importantly will be blinded. When striking allies, they will have a condition cured and will gain regeneration for a short period of time. It will only bounce to 4 targets, but because of the long range it can be used to save an ally from the back lines and simultaneously hinder the enemy that they’re fighting. It can also hit the same target multiple times, so bouncing it between two targets in a dueling scenario is probably the most efficient way to use the skill.
Shield of Wrath is analogous to the mace’s Protector’s Strike in that it creates a shield to block incoming damage while making enemies pay for it, although the shield functions very differently. For starters, it can block up to three incoming attacks instead of just one and functions as a personal shield instead of surrounding an area. However, it will not deal damage unless the shield is not destroyed at the end of the skill’s duration, which means it was only hit once or twice. It’s a decent amount of damage too, so working to keep the shield active is not a bad decision. It also is a blast combo finisher, which combines with the guardian’s Light combo fields to grant retaliation to nearby allies.
The shield is unique amongst the off-hand weapons in that it allows you to actively disrupt an enemy’s skills and positions through the use of Shield of Absorption. It’s a very defensive tool, granting protection to your allies and stopping enemy projectiles from reaching their mark. However, its low damage output and short range means that you can’t easily wade into combat with just a shield strapped to your arm. Like the focus, the skills also have fairly long cooldowns, so it’s important to make the most of each skill to protect your allies or disrupt your enemies.
Shield of Judgement is the only damaging skill on the shield, and grants protection to yourself and up to 5 allies in a cone in front of you when you use it. Enemies in the cone will also take a small amount of damage, which makes it an ideal skill to help out in a party battle. Lining up the skill is probably the most important part of using it efficiently, because buffing your entire party and damaging nearby enemies will be a lot more helpful than granting protection you just yourself and having to fight off a swarm of devourers because your party members didn’t survive the onslaught.
Shield of Absorption creates a dome around you that knocks back enemies and absorbs incoming projectiles when used. It also can be “detonated” to heal allies in the dome, although this is a bit badly worded because the shield will still be active after the detonation. It’s worth noting that the shield itself is a Light combo field and a similar shield can be activated through the Resolute Healer trait when reviving a fallen ally. This shield, however, cannot be detonated. In addition, while it will knock nearby enemies to the ground, it will not prevent them from walking through the dome once they’re back on their feet. You are also unable to move while the shield is active, so it’s important that you only use the skill as a form of crowd control and not expect it to save your life in a bad encounter.
The torch is easily the most damage-heavy of the off-handed weapons. It lacks a bit in range, but the damage output available combined with the low skill cooldowns means that it’s the perfect weapon if you want to drive your enemies before you. Being a guardian weapon there’s a small amount of support capability built in, but most of the focus is on burning your enemies to a crisp.
Zealot’s Flame is probably the most amusing and shockingly useful skill for a guardian that likes getting right into the thick of things. Using the skill will set you on fire for a short duration, which then sets a few nearby enemies on fire. Combined with your passive Virtue of Justice, your damage output will spike up greatly whether you’re fighting a small group or a single enemy. When activated it also grants you the ability to throw the fire at an enemy a great distance away, dealing a good amount of damage at the cost of an increased cooldown. It’s a good source of quick damage, but the increased cooldown can be very debilitating to your damage output in the long run.
Cleansing Flame is essentially a flamethrower that guardians can use. When activated you will breathe a cone of fire out in front of you, dealing heavy damage to enemies struck while removing conditions from allies in the flame. The damage is not done all at once however, as the skill is channeled over the course of a few seconds. This also prevents you from using other combat skills, although it will not keep you rooted in one place. It will also not cleanse conditions from yourself, which means you will not be able to use it as a quick fix to recover from poison or other potentially fatal skills.