Base Class: Naturalist
Races Allowed: Celt, Firbolg
Prime Statistics: EMP, STR, CON
Armor: Scale (20), Reinforced (10), Leather
Shield: Medium* (5), Small*
Weapons: Blades, Blunts
Ranged: Short Bow* (7)
Other Skills: Parry (15)
Spell Lines: Regrowth, Nurture
Spec Points: 1.5x level
Wardens are, at the heart of it, a group support class. Their class-defining skills are
largely passive chants that affect their entire group. In addition to this, Wardens get
light healing and buffing abilities and trainable melee skills, but are still a
healer-based class. If you want primarily a melee class, chances are Warden is not for
you, even though they spend a lot of their time in melee.
This is problably the biggest complaint of the class -- a lot of people who created Wardens, especially in the very early stages of the game, didn't really have a handle on what they were getting into. Here's the official word:
A fighting class whose first steps were along the Way of Nature, Wardens can fight very well using a variety of armor and weapons, as well as receive druidic spells to aid themselves as well as their realmmates.
This is a little more moderate than the original description which included the
oft-quoted phrase "formidable fighter," but still paints a different picture of
the Warden than what players actually encounter.
When in their niche (grouped, primarily PvE) Wardens are an extremely powerful class, due largely to the Nature's Fend line of spells, also known as Pulsing Bladeturn or "the bubble," because of its effect graphic. The bubble chant absorbs a tremendous amount of physical damage and can make impossible fights possible and hard fights easy. Everything else about a Warden -- healing ability, tanking ability, melee output, archery, buffing -- is of secondary benefit.
+ Extremely desireable to groups due to chants (primarily bubble, but also lesser run
speed and damage add, especially at lower levels)
+ Scale armor (best in realm)
+ Very versatile, good at plugging holes in groups
+ Decent soloers, once bubble available
+ Most strength in one spell line -- you don't have to make tough decisions
+ Minor rez ability
+ Base buffs
+ Stack well -- multiple Wardens in a group work together very well
- Defining class ability is very passive, can be dull for people
- Low damage output, almost exclusively in melee
- Most strength is in chants, so you have to pick one at a time
- Highest bubble chants restrict mana supply, making effective heals difficult
- "Cookie cutter" templating -- one design is highly favorable
- Somewhat weak solo at low levels
- Very defensive in RvR, which is generally considered a weakness
Your two options (the same for all 3 naturalists) are:
So consider what the Warden will be doing: largely meleeing for minor effectiveness, or healing a bit, while running the power-draining bubble chant, then decide which you like. The Firbolg will likely deal a little more melee damage but be a touch weaker on melee defensively. Firbolgs also get a slight power pool advantage, but the low DEX means they cast a little slower. It's pretty much a wash. Firbolgs are probably a little more popular, but there's no appreciable downside to playing a Celt.
Given the hybrid nature of the Warden, it's not worth it to put over 10 in any one stat. EMP is almost a no-brainer. QUI is probably not worth your while. Which two of STR, CON, and DEX get your other 20 points, or if you want to split them up, is just a matter of personal preference and minor effect. You can't really go wrong.
Wardens get 1.5 times their level (rounded down) points to specialize in 5 lines. These
Blade/Blunt: Pick one of blades or blunts and ignore the other. Blunts are generally better in RvR combat due to their bonus vs chain and plate armor and have slightly more effective styles. Blades are a little better overall in PvE, and it's easier to get good quality high-level blades. This is pretty evenly split among the current population.
Parry: The extra ability to fend off blows with your weapon. In PvE you probably won't be doing much tanking if there's a Hero or Champion available to you regularly, and in RvR, styles are harder to parry. The real issue with parry is that you pay a progressively higher cost as you raise it for the same skill increase. It's not a useless skill, and the first few points are worth the investment, but for most Wardens, the Parry skill is what's left over once the other skills have been raised to where they're desired.
Regrowth: The healing line. Specializing in regrowth has 3 effects. First, it makes available specialized single-target heals that consistently heal for a known amount. Secondly, it raises the minimum that base-line heal spells heal for. Finally, it opens up higher versions of the endurance conservation buff line and the self regeneration line. While by no means a waste of points, especially for the second effect, the power-draining nature of the bubble chant means that actual heals must be used sparingly. Most Wardens pick a low point with a new spell at which to stop, most commonly 2 (endurance regeneration), 12 (first endurance conservation), 16 (improved ressurection), 20, or 26 (spec heals).
Nurture: This is the class-defining line for Wardens. The base line consists of the common "blue" stat buffs -- STR, DEX, CON, and Armor Factor. The spec line is where the juice is. Because of this, I'll go over the spell lines individually.
o Bubble. Technically, this is 3 spell lines. The first consists of Nature's Ward (spec nurture 2) and Nature's Fend (10). These are, respectively the self-only and targettable single-cast bladeturns. If you've gotten this far without knowing what bladeturn is, it's a buff that absorbs any physical attack (melee or arrow) on you, then goes away. Well, almost. Opponents of a level higher than you are have a chance to blow through the bubble. The chance of the bubble working in these cases is your level divided by the attacker's level. Nature's Fend replaces Ward on your spell list, but remains there thereafter, so you can always single-target bubble (though not indefinitely, since it has a % power cost, not a set power cost). The second spell line is Nature's Shield (18). This is a group, single-cast version. Like the previous one, it remains in your spell list thereafter, allowing you to drop a group bubble, then start another chant (very common when using the run speed chant to travel). The third line is the level 26, 36, and 45 pulsing bladeturns. The "bubblechant" refreshes once every 10, 8, or 6 seconds repeatedly. Each version has a progressively larger drain on your power, but this is the spell line that defines the class. Absorbing huge amounts of damage for a minimal cost while allowing you to do other things is just an extraordinary ability. What's more, bubble chants stack -- you can have two people doing the 8 second bubble chant for a bubble every 4 seconds if you time the casting correctly. Four wardens could do it every 2 seconds if they could synchronize it. This is less effective with different levels of the chant, since you cannot use an earlier version.
o Run speed (chant). This is the same level/percentage increase as the same line given to the Enchanter, Healer, Theurgist, Sorcerer, etc. Running fast is never a bad thing.
o Damage add (chant). This line will increase melee damage output by your party a fairly hefty amount, up to a whopping 7.5 dps at the top end. This chant is shoutable, meaning you can start it on the fly -- a handy ability if caught without the bubble chant up. This is almost always used for Wardens below Nurture spec 26, and is sometimes used with two Wardens, especially if they have different bubble chant levels. This does not stack with the Enchanter damage add (spec enchantment line) but it stacks at half-effectiveness on a Druid with his self-damage add buff up.
o Self-haste. This is now a self-buff with a 10 minute duration -- a welcome change, since it now is useable while bubble chant is up. Granting the caster an increase in non-styled melee output up to 38% at the level 47 version.
o Resistances. Three seperate lines giving +8% to +24% resistances to Body, Energy, and Spirit resistance. Not usually much for PvE, but amazingly useful for RvR if you run into a smite cleric with Spirit resist up, or a Thane with energy resist working.
The Warden community has, on the whole, generally agreed on some points about how to
spec a Warden. These are:
- Bubble chant is necessary to the desireability to the Warden.
- A melee skill is of secondary importance, and should be taken to a minimum of 34 (2/3 spec)
- Regrowth is useful in inverse proportion to which bubble chant you achieve.
In addition, MOST Wardens have chosen to emphasize the bubble chant to the 6-second pulsing, but others have viable alternate templates with the 10- and 8- second bubble chant (Nurture 26 or 36). With the 6 second template, the real question is where to stop? Popular options are 45 (6 second bubble), 46 (last damage add chant), 47 (last self-haste), and 49 (last resistance buff). Along with this goes a weapon skill around 40 (often stopping at new styles at 34, 39, or 44), regrowth at one of the popular stopping points (2, 12, 16, or 20), and the remainder in parry. The character builder at DAOC Catacombs is very useful for hashing out the details.
It's assumed by the time you have sufficient realm points to select abilities, you'll
have a pretty good handle on which you'd like. Here are a few of the more commonly
o Augmented Strength (also Acuity and Dexterity). Passive. These three abilities simply give a boost to your strength, empathy, or dexterity respectively. While not a bad thing, the primary reason they're selected is due to them being prerequisites for other abilities.
o Long Wind. Passive. Combined with the shoutable endurance regen, this provides an unlimited sprint at level 1. Very useful for chasing down those who are trying to escape in RvR.
o Serenity. Passive. Requires Augmented Acuity II. Increased power regeneration, which is just what the doctor ordered to counteract the power drain from the 6 and 8 second pulsing bladeturn chants.
o Avoidance of Magic. Passive. Increased magic resistance, stacks with the nurture line buffs.
o Master of Parrying. Passive. Requires Augmented Dexterity II. Increased chance to Parry, without using spec points.
o Master of Pain. Passive. Requires Augmented Dexterity II. Increased chance to Critical hit. Increasing melee damage helps fill one of the main weaknesses of the class.
o Master of Arms. Passive. Requires Augmented Strength III. Haste, stacks with our haste buff. Good for a damage bump, plus lower attack delays means it takes less time to drop out of combat and toss a heal. Only real downside of this one is it requires Aug Strength III which is pricey and doesn't lead to much else.
o Mystic Crystal Lore. Active. Thirty percent of your mana back in a flash, another solution for the mana drain issue. Costs only 3 points for level I, with no pre-requisite. If you were only going to take Serenity to I anyway, Mystic Crystal Lore is a cheaper and strong alternative.
o Purge. Active. Ten points is a lot, but being able to shrug off all ill effects, particularly mesmerization is very strong. On a thirty-minute timer.
o Thornweed Field. Active. The Warden special costs 14 points. For that load, you get an ability to use once for 30 seconds every 30 minutes. However, what it does may make up for that -- you get an AE, ground targeted range through which any enemies traveling not only take DoT damage but are also snared, making it difficult to leave. The applications for this in Keep defense are obvious, and in a big crowd, the damage piles up fast.
Warden solo PvE is fairly simple. Start the bubble chant (or damage add if you don't yet have it), make sure you're buffed, pull out your bow, pluck a likely target, then switch back to weapon and shield and whack away. Due to the nature of the bubble chant, it's easier to solo slow, big hitters, rather than light, fast ones. In downtime, if you're in a relatively safe area, drop the bubble to conserve mana, heal and rest up, and repeat.
This is where the Warden truly shines. Fire up the bubble or damage add chant, melee
away, and toss heals when necessary. You may even be called upon to pull. Remember that
both the targetable and group single-cast bubble spells are available, and it's often more
effective to spam one of these spells than try to actually heal, depending on the
circumstances. Another bonus of this tactic is that it generated virtually no aggro,
unlike healing. If you don't have a healing onus, try to share the tanking responsibilties
a bit to get the most out of group bubble chant. If you have a Bard or Mentalist, the
confusion spells can be very effective, but this requires a very trusting group.
Multiple Wardens offer some interesting options. As mentioned above, it's possible to time the bubble chant so that they alternate, and both work. Two Wardens with the 10 second chant can offer an effective 5 second chant, Four could get a 2.5 second chant if they can time it correctly. When setting this up, one of the best methods is to have one Warden start, then the second cancels the effect on themselves by shift-right clicking. By seeing when it reappears and remembering the chant takes 4 seconds to begin, you can time it fairly well.
Of course, if you work it out, having differing chant speeds is less effective. While sometimes they will interleave nicely, at other times they will strike within a second, which is much less useful. In these cases, it's often better for one of the Wardens to use the damage add chant.
Much like solo PvE, your ideal opponent will be one with slow attacks. Dual-wielders especially can be trouble as the second attack will always come through the bubble shield. Stay close and don't forget that endurance regeneration is shoutable as is damage chant -- if they try to run, you can turn on sprint and twist these two to get extra offensive power and running stamina, but at the cost of your bubble.
One of the downsides of the bubble chant is that it overwrites equal or lower level
caster self-only bubbles. Also, if someone goes outside your range, they lose the bubble
protection. Try to stay in range of as much of your party as possible -- running off alone
not only puts you in a sticky spot but removes protection for your party. Also remember,
especially with the 8 and 6 second versions, your power will regenerate much more slowly,
so be picky about how you spend it. Buffs, however, require no power to cast, so rebuff
team mates as soon as possible after rezzes. As for targets, if you have another tank to
work with, like a Hero or Champion, follow their lead. If not, go for the support classes
first -- singer and healer types. They have a tendency to try to fight their way out,
which is a winnable matchup.
VN Naturalists forum is the most active community for all 3 Naturalist professions, and probably the best place to get a scoop on the latest info. It's frequented by cpenney, the Warden Team Lead.
The Camelot Nexus Warden forum is almost deserted, but it is the only actual forum devoted solely to Wardens I've yet seen.
Allakhazam's Warden page has some useful information hidden in the pages of pointless bickering under the comments section.
DAoC Catacombs' Character Builder is a great tool for figuring out possible spec templates.
Realm Ability list for Wardens from DAoC Catacombs.
Sorcha's Warden Guide was the first one out there, but is a little dated and only covers through level 20.
Pharaoh's Warden Guide is the only other full guide to the class I've seen.
Hoode Wynk <Jesters>
Warden, Morgan Le Fay