Hello, I’m Chris (chrissssssssssssss) and I’ve been playing Guardian and Paladin since 40 cap NA. I’ve one-tricked this class in PDN for quite a while and hope this guide will help impart some of the knowledge I’ve collected on this class (especially after the new rework and remaster). This guide would not have been possible without the initial guide from Salad/Darky (snot#7451)
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Guardian is THE tank class. It is the original class designed to take boss aggro and give teammates a supportive buff in the form of a bubble. Since then there have been two other classes that have also taken this mantle and various changes happened in the way tanks function in Dragon Nest. However, Guardian has maintained its identity entirely in utilizing its shield to defend allies and propel its own damage. Its current identity resides in being a class focused on parrying boss attacks in order to refund its huge burst damage window in the form of [Heart of Glory].
This is the main mechanic that the class revolves around. Vanguard allows certain skills to be enhanced (do more DMG / generate Guardian’s Graces) if you use 10 graces or are hit while casting them. Every Vanguard also reduces the CD of [Heart of Glory] by 5 seconds. It is incredibly important to prioritize these skills as parries and spenders of graces in order to get the most usage out of the incredible burst HoG gives. There are 5 skills that have this effect: [Shield Charge], [Thrust Force], [Overwhelm], [Armor Break EX], and [Divine Punishment EX]. The latter two only receive the effect during [Heart of Glory]’s duration. [Heart of Glory] also allows you to cast the Vanguard versions of [Shield Charge], [Thrust Force], and [Overwhelm] without having to get hit or spend 10 graces. Each Vanguard successfully parried with will generate 2 extra Guardian Graces. This mechanic completely changes the way you prioritize your skills and deal damage with the class. Be prepared to learn to center your gameplay around it.
- [Roundhouse Kick] / [Holy Kick] My filler skills of choice. They do about the same damage as [Sacred Hammering] if you run action speed kick plates and have the benefit of being good pushing skills for mechanics that require that. They do light damage after the rework and are great style points if you get used to using them properly. PvP player memento.
- [Sacred Hammering] A filler skill that requires less investment in the skill crest side and allows you to spec into more experimental crests. Whichever filler skill you choose really is just a preference.
- [Paralyze Bolt] Useful crowd control skill for tanking certain mechanics such as the first stage of Black Dragon. Not a necessity but good to have since Guardian has a lot of leftover SP.
- [Block] This skill is disabled when you take your CM1, do not level it
- [Shin Breaker] Can be chained after a [Sliding Step] or a [Dash] by pressing [Regular Attack Button]. Extremely useful to extend the iframe of your tumble or gap close. This is a purely defensive option most of the time as mobility comes mostly from other skills.
- [Elemental Aura] A constant buff giving you 10% light DMG. You want to always have this on so make sure you rebuff this after portals.
- [Conviction Aura] This Aura is not necessary but can be neat for giving you extra movement and action speed when you're running away from breath mechanics. A decent option but Elemental Aura should always be prioritized.
- [Dispel] This skill is your debuff skill, certain bosses have an enrage mechanic that needs to be cleansed. It's damage is piss poor so only use it when a boss needs it's enrage wiped
- [Armor Break EX] This skill is sectioned off into 4 parts. All hits apply a 20% defense down debuff. You can press [Regular Attack Button] or [Special Attack Button] to continue the chain from the initial cast. Under [Awakened Heart of Glory] this skill becomes a Vanguard and can use 10 graces or be blocked with to gain the Vanguard effect. Both the [Regular Attack Button] and [Special Attack Button] chains will allow you to block with this ability. The [Regular Attack Button] chain will allow you to spend 10 graces for the Vanguard version. If you do not have 10 Guardians Graces you will still be able to parry with this chain for the Vanguard version. The [Special Attack Button] chain will not consume graces but will still allow you to parry for the Vanguard version. This skill is important to land fully in solo or nest content as you can not guarantee that the classes you are running with will be debuffing the enemies consistently. The passive of this skill also makes it so that any block or parry grants you Guardian Graces (your bubble system). These Guardian Graces can be consumed when you have 10 or more to gain the Vanguard effect on any of your applicable Vanguard abilities
- [Stance of Faith EX] This is your main parry skill. It has a low CD of 5 seconds so you can almost always block incoming attacks with it. The skill has 2 potential timings: Perfect Parry (if you block during the first 30 frames of the skill you get extra damage, a 5% HP heal, 2 Guardian’s Graces and the Regular Parry (this occurs during the last 40 frames of the skill and it will only block the attack, give you one Guardian Grace and do some damage). You always want to land your Perfect Parries as the extra grace and extra damage is essential for optimal DPS. During the skill you can also press space bar [Jump] to go into an aerial version where every hit is a perfect parry. This jump version is especially useful for guaranteeing perfect parries during certain slower mechanics and is really good against multi-hits. In multi-hit mechanics you will continue blocking until you land which will grant you multiple Guardian Graces. If you hold a directional key you can also position your aerial movement which will let you surf certain mechanics like Rune Dragon first stage lasers. Be careful with this, however, since the game can desync you into the floor at which point you won't be blocking anymore. Use your surfing wisely! It is also important to note that after you perform an aerial parry you can press [Special Attack Button] to cast [Dive Kick] and land faster.
- [Divine Ascension EX] This is a low CD (6 second) skill that is very spammable and does decent damage. It is also fully i-framed and perfect for dodging as it has a long window of invulnerability. Pressing [Regular Attack Button] will do a second downwards attack which is just extra damage or you can delay the input slightly to extend your i-frame duration. This ability generates 1 Guardians Grace on hit. After any block or parry the EXi version of this skill will cast. This is a weaker, faster, version of the skill that has no CD and will not grant a Guardians Grace.
- [Shield Blow] / [Divine Vengeance] This is the Class Mastery 3 combo. You press Shield Blow and [Special Attack Button] 3 times or hold [Special Attack Button] to do a full combo. Shield blow generates 1 Guardian’s Grace and will also Provoke the enemy. This aggro is on a lower priority than the skill [Provoke] so if there are two tanks in the party there will be no conflicts as long as the main tank is consistently applying [Provoke].
- [Divine Punishment EX] Probably the single highest damaging skill in the kit in its Vanguard form. This skill generates 2 Guardian’s Graces on hit. Under [Awakened Heart of Glory] this skill becomes a Vanguard. Parrying with the ability will grant the Vanguard version. Pressing the [Regular Attack Button] to use 10 Guardians Graces will also grant the Vanguard version. The Vanguard version of this attack will do an additional explosion for extra damage.
- [Air Block] This is just a secondary evasion for the class. Press [Regular Attack Button] any time while knocked up in the air to perform a block and land. It produces 1 Guardian’s Grace.
- [Awakened Shield Charge] This is one of your highest damage skill on the spread. You almost never want to use this skill without going for a Vanguard since you would lose out on a lot of damage. The Vanguard version will leap you into the air and land dealing extra damage. The regular gameplay loop basically makes you save 10 Guardian's Grace to use it without parrying or save this skill for parrying except during long periods of time where the boss won’t attack you. In order to parry effectively with this skill it is better to wait till right before the hit happens to use it similar to [Stance of Faith]. This is because the fast forward movement could accidentally move you out of the boss's attack. Otherwise precise turning and aiming yourself towards the bosses attacks should do the trick.
- [Thrust Force] This is one of the strongest skill on the spread. Depending on your gameplay or the boss it could also be your strongest. This skill is split into 3 parts. The first is a wind up to shoot a chain that will drag you forward. The second part is the movement forward. Pressing the [Regular Attack Button] will spend 10 graces to use the Vanguard version of this ability. If you do not have 10 Guardian's graces the attack can still be parried with for the vanguard effect. Pressing the [Special Attack Button] will not consume 10 graces but can also parry the bosses attack for the Vanguard version. Both the [Regular Attack Button] and the [Special Attack Button] will start the third part of the attack which is also a decent point to Vanguard with as it’ll do extra explosion damage. Learning to position and move around with this skill can be tough due to its speed but mastering it is extremely satisfying. Your parry timing with this skill is always casting it before the hit happens and making sure you stay within the bosses range. The reason it is often lower in your spread is because often you will just want to use it as a filler instead of a Vanguard while prioritizing [Shield Charge] exclusively for that.
- [Overwhelm] Another one of your vanguard skills. You can parry with this skill on its initial wind up. You can press the [Regular Attack Button] to spend 10 Guardians Graces to grant the Vanguard version. If you do not have 10 Graces you will still be able to parry with the ability on the initial wind-up for the Vanguard version. You can press the [Special Attack Button] to not consume 10 graces and parry with the initial wind-up for the Vanguard version. Both the [Regular Attack Button] and the [Special Attack Button] chains will do an upward thrust if you do not have 10 Graces or do not parry on the wind-up. The Vanguard version will launch you into the air while iframed and crash back down to the ground dealing additional damage.
- [Awakened Heart of Glory] This is the buff that this class lives and dies by. You receive 50% movement speed. During it you will instantly gain 10 Guardian’s Graces. The buff also turns your [Armor Break EX] and [Divine Punishment EX] into Vanguard skills while making [Shield Charge], [Thrust Force], and [Overwhelm] Vanguards cost no Guardians Graces. The cast of the skill is an i-frame and does big damage. Your gameplay loop will prioritize Vanguarding because each Vanguard reduces the CD of this buff by 5 seconds. It is extremely important to learn to manage this buff as it is your biggest source of damage.
- [Provoke] This is the skill that allows you to take the enemies aggro. The area of effect is a large cone in front of you so it allows you to either be extremely selective with who’s aggro you’re taking or use it as a large aoe. Some enemies might resist this and you’ll be able to tell by the words resist appearing above their heads and the lack of the [!] on their head. For enemies where this does work you want to apply it nearly off CD or alternating with your Armor Break debuff. This skill tends to be more reliable on taking aggro and reapplying it is especially important after big mechanics where the boss aggro resets. You want to direct the boss away from your team for the most part and instruct its positioning according to mechanics. You can use this skill even when bosses are i-framed to apply aggro early. Learning how to use this skill properly is the key to being a good tank.
- [Awakened Divine Barrier] This is your standard team bubble skill. It gives your teammates 30% extra HP as a buff. Also while you have this buff on yourself it will heal you by 1% HP every 2 seconds for some nice passive healing. With this plus SoF perfect parries you can self-sustain incredibly well. If you hit your enemy with this skill it applies a DMG debuff that increases your team's DMG by 5% so you want to make sure you’re applying this off CD.
- [Justice Crash EX] A very standard filler skill. If you press the skill you ascend and then smash down on the floor. The ascension has an i-frame and also counts as airborne (if you want to know if a skill is airborne to dodge stomps just know that when the camera moves with the skill that's the indicator). You can also press the spacebar while in the air to use an instant version of the skill. This is never recommended since it is essentially cutting the skills damage in half. Part of learning to play Guardian is to learn not to accidentally mess up your jumps with this skill so make sure you practice not spamming spacebar.
- [Endure] This is an extremely important mechanic that applies to all tanks in Project Duck. You can make all of your teammates invulnerable for around 3.5 seconds as long as they remain inside the area of effect of [Endure]. This area is not that large so make sure you communicate to your teammates when you are casting it so they can properly stack. Do keep in mind that while this skill will make you invulnerable for the full 4 second duration, your teammates will only receive the buff a little bit after the startup animation. This skill isn’t instantaneous like Saint’s [Immortality] so make sure you time it accordingly. The best way to make sure your timings are correct is to look at the debuffs on your bar and calculate accordingly. For example: During Managarm’s crossroad mechanic you can avoid the breath by using this skill as soon as the timer on the marked people hits 4 seconds. Your entire team will be able to dodge the mechanic this way including the explosion from the marks and dps through it. Another way that this skill is commonly used for certain long mechanics is to stack it with [Immortality]. You do this by looking at your buff bar and waiting till the [Immortality] buff reaches 0 seconds. As soon as you see the 0 you can [Endure] and it will perfectly stack protecting your team from damage.
The best skills for pushing objects during mechanics are [Roundhouse Kick], [Holy Kick], [Armor Break], and [Shield Charge]. The first 3 are your best bet for the most part as they are extremely controlled. This is also why I prefer taking the action speed crests on the kicks over [Sacred Hammering]. [Shield Charge] can be awkward to drag objects with but mastering it can lead to an insane instant push. All of your skills pretty much have a decent push except for the first part of [Overwhelm] which brings objects towards you (the second part will push them back out to the same spot so it's useless in this case). As a Guardian you should almost never struggle to push as a result.
This skill build is the skeleton. You can take additional skills with the leftover points as you wish.
[Heart of Glory Duration], [Armor Break DMG] / [Shield Charge DMG] / [Divine Vengeance DMG] / [Divine Ascension DMG]
Optional crests: [Roundhouse Kick Action Speed] / [Holy Kick Action Speed] / [Justice Crash CDR] / [Stance of Faith CD Reset]
Skill Up: +1 [Shield Charge] or [Armor Break]
3 Destructive + 1 Elemental (never question the boom spreadsheet. worst mistake of my life.)
[Armor Break] → [Heart of Glory] → [Shield Charge] → [Thrust Force] → [Overwhelm] → [Divine Punishment] → [Stance of Faith] → [Shield Blow CM3] → [Divine Ascension] → [Justice Crash] → [Roundhouse Kick/Holy Kick] / [Sacred Hammering]
Guardian doesn’t really have a predetermined rotation but it does follow some strict priorities when optimizing DPS. These vary depending on whether you are under HoG or not. Within these parameters you also want to always be geneating graces and have a Vanguard skill saved to parry a boss attack with. Always being prepared to Vanguard as it will let you use HoG more often and do a lot more damage.
You will always be using [Shield Charge], [Thrust Force], and [Overwhelm] off CD in that order. You want to always Vanguard with [Divine Punishment] by either parrying or spending 10 Graces since it is your single highest damage skill. [Armor Break EX] can be used off CD but make sure to seek opportunities to spend 10 graces or parry to Vanguard with it. You only want to parry with [Stance of Faith] if your Vanguard skills are on CD. For filler I spam [Divine Ascension] and [Justice Crash] off CD when there is nothing else to cast and the rest can be filled by your kicks or hammers.
Outside of HoG
The idea is the same except you want to save [Shield Charge] and [Overwhelm] now exclusively to spend 10 Graces or parry with for the Vanguards. Again [Thrust Force] can be used off CD but do keep in mind situations to Vanguard with it. Every other skill can be used off CD following the priority list. The reason we’re doing this is because we want to reduce the CD of [Heart of Glory] as much as possible.