Hello, I’m Salad/Darky (snot#7451) and I’ve been playing Guardian since around 2014. I was mostly known for being a PvP player but with Duck I’ve expanded to PvE as well. I’ve one-tricked this class since the very origins of PDN and hope this guide will help impart some of the knowledge I’ve collected on this class (especially after the new rework). This guide would not have been possible without the initial input from Kyle.#4137 and Vahr#9959 so huge shoutouts to them.
If you're interested in learning about other classes, we have a Class Guide Archive!
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 are hit while casting them. Every Vanguard also reduces the CD of [Heart of Glory] by 6 seconds. It is incredibly important to prioritize these skills as parries in order to get the most usage out of the incredible burst HoG gives. There are 4 skills that have this effect: [Shield Charge], [Thrust Force], [Shield Blow / Divine Vengeance CM3], and [Divine Punishment]. 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] and [Thrust Force] without having to get hit. 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] A powerful buff giving you the ability to Block the next 5 attacks for 20 seconds. This is used for certain mechanics like Managarm’s (1st boss of Rune Dragon) fire breath. If you don't have enough Vanguard skills you can block most of the mechanic by using this buff and spamming left click, which will cast [Divine Ascension EXi], giving you a longer i-frame duration per block. This buff can be a double edged sword, however. Blocks will be prioritized over regular skills which means random mechanics could cancel your dps rotation and mess you up. Block is also prioritized over [Stance of Faith EX] so if you try to parry with it you will block instead. If you time your SoF correctly you will still receive the DMG buff but you won't do the damage or heal. Vanguard skills still have higher priority so they shouldn't conflict there. I only recommend using this buff for specific mechanics. Otherwise rely on SoF or Vanguard skills to block most mechanics.
- [Shin Breaker] Can be chained after a [Sliding Step] or a [Dash] by pressing left click. 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.
- [Autoblock EX] A passive granting you 15% chance to automatically block an attack. It will only trigger if you’re not using any skills. Can be helpful to save you from some damage if you’re lucky. This passive also makes it so that any block or parry grants you Guardian Graces (your bubble system). These Guardian Graces are used to enhance [Overwhelm] at 20 stacks.
- [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, a cure from any debuffs, 4 Guardian’s Graces and a 10% dmg buff for 20 seconds) 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 dmg buff is essential. 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 right click 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 left click will do a second downwards attack which is just extra damage or you can delay the input slightly to extend your i-frame duration. After any block or parry you can press left click to cast the EXi version of this skill. This is a weaker, faster, version of the skill that has no CD.
- [Shield Blow] / [Divine Vengeance] This is the Class Mastery 3 combo. You press Shield Blow and right click 3 times or hold right click to do a full combo. Both of these skills are Vanguards in HoG. Divine Vengeance is only a Vanguard during the first two hits, however, the last one is not a vanguard. Make sure you time this one well. This skill generates 2 Guardian’s Grace and is important in generating 20 graces outside of HoG.
- [Divine Punishment EX] Probably the single highest damaging skill in the kit in its Vanguard form. This skill generates 4 Guardian’s Graces on hit so it is very helpful in getting to 20 Guardian's Graces outside of HoG. This skill is also Guardian’s debuff skill so use it when the boss enrages. Since it is a part of the regular rotation you have to learn when bosses enrage and save this skill for those moments. Debuffing enraged bosses is an extremely important part of tanking so make sure you don’t grief your team.
- [Air Block] This is just a secondary evasion for the class. Press right click any time while knocked up in the air to perform a block and land. It produces 1 Guardian’s Grace.
- [Awakened Armor Break] This skill is sectioned off into 3 parts. The first 2 hits apply a 20% defense down debuff. If you press the left click you perform another attack which Provokes 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]. If you press the left click again you perform a 4th and final hit which applies a 20% elemental debuff. 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. In a raid you can make the decision to lower the priority on this skill if your teammates are competent at debuffing the boss. However, it is always a nice filler skill to throw out when you have no other cooldowns.
- [Awakened Shield Charge] This is your highest damage skill on the spread. You almost never want to use this skill without going for a Vanguard counter attack since you would lose out on a lot of damage. The regular gameplay loop basically makes you 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 the second 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. You do not want to Vanguard with this part as it will not spawn the projectile and you’ll lose out on a lot of damage. The second part is the movement forward where it is mostly optimal to parry. If you vanguard during this stage you will spawn a projectile that can be detonated for huge damage by pressing left click. This left click attack is the third part 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] This is your occasional big nuke skill. Once you reach 20 Guardian’s Graces this skill will be enhanced by making the second part airborne and do a lot more damage. Similar to Justice Crash, the ascending movement is i-framed. You almost always want to wait for 20 Graces before you cast this skill which if you are getting a decent amount of Vanguards it shouldn’t be hard. During HoG you can use this off CD since you are constantly replenishing Graces. If you have [Shield Blow] or [Divine Punishment] off CD and you’re almost at 20 Graces make sure you use them to guarantee the big damage on this skill.
- [Awakened Heart of Glory] This is the buff that this class lives and dies by. You receive 50% movement speed and 15% physical attack. During it you will instantly gain 20 Guardian’s Grace and constantly be replenishing them over the duration of the buff. The buff also turns your [Shield Blow / Divine Vengeance CM3] and [Divine Punishment] into Vanguard skills while making [Shield Charge] and [Thrust Force] Vanguard automatically. 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 6 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.
Notes: I choose to go for [Holy Kick] as my filler. You could take [Goddess Relic] + [Sacred Hammering] if you want to left click as your filler instead and not invest into Action Speed Kick Plates.
Max [Paralyze Bolt] is taken for niche mechanics like BDN Dragon Stage 1 as a crowd control option but it is not necessary.
[Iron Will] does nothing in PvE so don’t level it
[Heart of Glory Duration], [Justice Crash CDR] / [Shield Charge DMG] / [Divine Vengeance DMG] / [Divine Ascension DMG]
Optional crests: [Roundhouse Kick Action Speed] / [Holy Kick Action Speed] / [Armor Break DMG] / [Stance of Faith CD Reset] / [Block CD]
Skill Up: +1 [Shield Charge] or [Heart of Glory]
3 Destructive + 1 Elemental (never question the boom spreadsheet. worst mistake of my life.)
[Armor Break] --> [Divine Barrier] --> [Stance of Faith] --> [Heart of Glory] --> [Shield Charge] --> [Thrust Force] --> [Overwhelm] --> [Divine Punishment] --> [Shield Blow CM3] --> [Justice Crash] --> [Divine Ascension] --> [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 have a Vanguard skill saved to parry a boss attack with. Always being prepared to Vanguard will let you use HoG more often and do a lot more damage.
You will always be using [Shield Charge] and [Thrust Force] off CD in that order followed by [Overwhelm]. You want to always save [Divine Punishment] to Vanguard with since it is your single highest damage skill if you Vanguard properly with it. [Shield Blow] can be used off CD but make sure to seek opportunities 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] now exclusively to parry with. 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.
Skill Bar Organization Example
I wanted to share some of the logic behind my skill bar organization. All of my important damage/debuffs are on my first bar in a manner that is comfortable for me. You only need [Shield Blow] on your bar to trigger your CM3 combo so I don’t have [Divine Vengeance] on any bar. In fact having DV on your bar may let you do suboptimal damage if you use it without Shield Blowing first. [Provoke] and [Heart of Glory] are on both bars since those are skills I always want to have access to as far as looking at CDs no matter what bar I’m on. [Stance of Faith] could also arguably receive this treatment. Then the second bar is just buffs and conditional skills that aren’t used as often. By having [Endure] on my secondary bar I don’t run the risk of accidentally pressing it since it is a crucial skill to certain mechanics. It also allows me to fully focus on the timing of Endure without worrying about doing damage. These are all the skills you need to use to play Guardian successfully. Some people may level and take [Electric Smite] as well as a filler/i-frame tool but I find that it is a complete noob trap. Smite will more often than not screw you over into not relying on your vanguards or SoF.
This is obviously just an example. Feel free to organize your bars however works best for you.