Paragon Class Guide
This guide was originally created by Snow Bunny of the Guild Wars Guru Forums. All credit for this guide goes to him. To see the original posting of this guide click here.
Quick Note: This is basically to provide a more contemporary look at Paragons, as opposed to the previous guide which suggests 'fun' builds with hammers.
*1.4 Spear Mastery
*2.5 Reasoning behind sets
*3.1 Basics of skill selection
*3.3 Energy Issues
*3.4 Some current builds
*3.5 Other professions
4. Hero and Henchies
*4.2 Team build selections
Disclaimer: Some may complain about my tunnel vision regarding viability, in that it's possible to be fun and viable. This is sometimes true, but 'fun' builds are often terrible, case in point being a Hammergon with Awe. This guide is to teach you how to play a Paragon, and be good at it.
And yes, I shamelessy ripped off Divine's guide because the format was good.
1. Introduction: Many people have very odd notions about the Paragon as a profession. Many perceive it as an overly nerfed hybrid between a prot monk and a warrior that fails at either aspect and in the end has been nerfed too much to be useful. This is a terrible and seriously misinformed viewpoint and if you are guilty of believing that Paragons are bad, you sir, are bad.
Paragons have come into their own as the unrivaled master of party-wide support and damage mitigation, and can be solely responsible for simultaneously buffing damage while mitigating it. Not to mention that damage from a Paragon is nothing to scoff at.
The Paragon as it stands currently is almost a defiant monument against the holy trinity as its defensive capabilities allow a team to pretty much configure itself to the team's desire without worry. Not to mention, blow stuff up.
1.1 Leadership: You gain 1 Energy for each ally affected by one of your Shouts or Chants (maximum 1 Energy for every 2 ranks).
This is the only attribute that can close to rival Soul Reaping in terms of power. In both theory and practice, with the right setup, you can power pretty much any bar you want with this. A warrior relies on adrenaline to fuel attacks, and can't really spam energy-attacks like a Dervish or Assassin can due to their small energy pool. The Paragon, with the same 2-pip regen level, can spam energy-based skills on a whole new level.
1.2 Command: This is your magnify-party-power attribute. A lot of Shouts are in this attribute, many of them either amplifying party damage output or adding great utility either offensively or defensively.
1.3 Motivation: This line was abused heavily in the Guild versus Guild format because of the ridiculous amounts of defense it lends. While not a lot of direct heals like Restoration or Healing Prayers from other professions, coupled with spammable shouts Motivation allows a Paragon to throw a lot of party healing and general defense all over the party in various layers that are difficult to crack.
1.4 Spear Mastery: Well, you are a physical, and you should be doing damage. A lot of people believe that Paragon offense is minimal. This is crap. Paragons autoattacking do very similar damage to Sword warriors. The numbers (14-27 vs. 15-22) are fairly close to each other and the damage is quite consistent. Spear damage is good and you should use it.
2. Equipment: Well, you need a couple things, the least of which is a spear, so you can kill stuff.
2.1 Spear: As I mentioned previously, your primary weapon is a spear and it should stay your primary weapon. Some people like making sword paragons, axe paragons, hammer paragons, etc. Don't do that. A spear provides you ranged sword DPS. What more do you want? Pancakes? You have 4 weapon slots, spear sets should take up 2 of them. One set should have a specific-damage-type mitigation shield with a vampiric spear, and the other should be a blind-reduction shield with a sundering/elemental spear. I normally roll with the Sundering spear because I like bringing Orders buffs along with me and elemental screws that up.
If you're expecting blind you'll want to sit on the reduce blind shield set naturally. As the only one in the party that can really take damage I don't want to be sitting on my vampiric weapon either. In which case you'll want to either use Sundering or Furious on the spear in that slot. Normally elemental would be the better choice as you could swap to it when dealing with warriors but because this setup has Order of Pain on the hero you lose some of your damage against normal foes. I stick with Sundering since I won't be blind all the time and I don't lose all that much damage compared to Vampiric.
You should always roll around with at least 12 in spear mastery. People who enjoy killing stuff might enjoy 14 (12+1+1) a lot more.
2.2 Shield: You have 80 armor standard, close to the Warrior's 80+20physical. With a shield that you meet the requirements for, you reach 96, which is almost an additional 66% more than casters. Unless you're a Motigon (we'll get to that) of some sort, you'll be using a Command shield. Many Paragon builds typically spec into Command for the ridiculously useful skills or if only to get the shield bonus. +16 armor is normally worth the spec. You'll want a couple different shields; I have 4. One with +10 vs. fire, +10 vs. cold, +10 vs. slashing, and 20% blind reduction. I use cold for paragoning in EotN, as there's quite a bit of AoE Water magic there. Fire and Blind are probably the best bets, however...
As a paragon you are not targeted that often. Most of the damage you'll receive is typically AoE commonly found in the fire magic tree. That and because you'll typically find fire in a lot of the endgame areas (Fissure of Woe, Underworld, etc...).
If you're expecting blind you'll want to sit on the reduce blind shield set naturally.
2.3 Staff: Certain skills are Don't-Leave-Home-Withouts, one of them being [Aggressive Refrain]. If you're bad, and/or dying, you'll need to recast it, which your 2-pip energy regen will take eternity to let you do. A staff (I use Oola's) allows you some energy to throw up AR or some other skill, and charge right into battle to pump out shouts for more energy.
2.4 Bow: There are times you will need to pull mobs (or Shard Wolves) and you don't want to aggro the entire burning forest. Use a longbow. I use a purple Wooden Longbow of Marksmanship (+1, 16% chance) because I'm awesome.
2.5 Reasoning behind Sets: Blind set if you're expecting blind, cold set for water aoe, fire set for most stuff, and slashing for areas with lots of axe/sword enemies.
2.6 Armor: Some people like Centurion's insignia. I use survivor typically because ["Save yourselves!"] is always on my bar and thus enemies might gun for me seeing as everyone else has 160+ armor. In case I die, I'd prefer to be a bit more resilient, especially in HM where bosses spank you with 300-500 points of spike damage.
3. Skills: Your skill bar will be cramped. As a Paragon, you'll want a couple things - party support, IAS, damage skills, and possibly a res skill. Invest in the most utility you can.
3.1 Basics: Let's assume you want all 4 of the aforementioned utilities. You have 8 spots. For our purposes of trying to not be terrible at this game, let's assume 1 Res skill, 1 IAS, 2-3 damage skills, and 3-4 support/utility skills.
IAS: [Aggressive Refrain] - With shouts constantly being spammed, this is a one time cast permanent IAS. Very solid pick and should always be on a Paragon bar. If you think Cracked Armor matters you should keep it to yourself.
Res: [Resurrection Signet] or [Signet of return] - One's fast, the other's always renewable. Gauge appropriately.
Damage should have damage, but utility as well. Throwing around conditions and disruption are generally preferred. Here's a couple of good damage skills.
[spear of fury] - I put this at the beginning because everyone wrote "well, what about spear of fury? Spear of Fury is an excellent skill. I have Kurzick rank 8 and this skill deals a lot of damage and fuels adrenaline. It in my mind is tied if not a close second to [ebon battle standard of honor] for the 3rd skill in the Imbagon build. I will explain further, but - if your ebon rank is low (<6) and your Alliance rank decent (4+) take this over EBSoH.
[Wild throw] - Will end a stance, which you find a lot of in PvE.
[Blazing spear] - spammable with fire tacked on, not bad.
[vicious attack] - deep wound if you critical with added damage, pretty powerful.
[Merciless spear] - Good way to throw deep wound on a target. Adrenal and cheap, with a fairly easy to meet condition.
[spear swipe] (yes I know it's in Leadership, stop being literal) - AI use this well. Damage + daze is pretty debilitating for casters; this is normally micro'd by me on a hero bar, but quite strong.
[spear of redemption] - if you have blind on you, this is a good way to get rid of it.
[swift javelin] - quite nice as long as you're under an enchantment; running around with an orders necro ensures you can meet this condition.
[stunning strike] - a lot of damage and daze. [stunning strike] is my favored elite choice given the spammable nature of the skill with Dark Fury. Monks were previously an annoyance on hard mode.
It's really between this and Cruel Spear for an elite spear attack; they're both quite powerful. Gauge caster strength and make your choice.
[cruel spear] - damage and deep wound, simply a strong choice, but elite.
3.2 utility - you want to buff your party members in all sorts of ways. Extra armor, extra damage, health regen, increased movement speed are all there to be abused. (God it's hard not to simply say "Imbagon" and be done, but alright. You people want all your options, so I'll cater to it). Here's a couple of good choices for various reasons. (I am specifically avoiding pve skills here, notably the imbagon. I will discuss it in a bit)
["stand your ground!"] - Paragons work well with other Paragons. Paragons don't need to move to attack; neither do rangers, or casters if they're not kiting. +24 armor is sexy.
["go for the eyes!"] - spammable, powerful, and energy-helpful. This is a popular skill for seriously increasing party damage with lolamounts of criticals. Using this just prior to a Vicious Attack is an almost sure-fire deepwound.
["incoming!"] - An elite version of "Fall Back". Your party moves around faster and gains health while moving. While this is indeed useful, it's better on a character that can sacrifice the elite slot because their standard skills are powerful by default. This is a good skill on characters like Rits and Necros, where their elite skills are occasionally not the best option.
[anthem of envy] - This will increase your party's damage by a lot, and is quite spammable under Dark Fury.
[anthem of weariness] - An easy way to spread weakness around enemy mobs, which will seriously reduce physical damage output against your party.
[anthem of disruption] - if you have a lot of physicals, you can pretty much wreck enemy caster mobs with this skill. Less useful than others, but a fun and quasi-viable alternative.
Motivation (disclaimer - I typically find motivation to be a waste for human paragons; it works well with heroes, however):
[aria of restoration] - Provides blanket party healing.
[aria of zeal] - Help your monks out!
[chorus of restoration] - with a lot of paragons, this instantly provides a lot of healing for a little skill slot.
[mending refrain] - with shout spam, this quickly turns itself into mending on your entire party with no upkeep. It's quite handy with a spammable shout in your party.
[song of restoration] - Blanket party heal.
[song of purification] - Very useful, this can easily clean up entire parties by itself. A pretty solid pick.
Leadership: Pretty sweet attribute, most battlelions go here first
["they're on fire!"] - couple this with a way to spread burning (anthem of flame, fire eles), and voila! Party protection!
[angelic bond] - An interesting skill to throw around party protection, but it uses up your elite. With so many other viable mitigation options, this one is rather outclassed in a PvE setting.
[anthem of flame] - Burning is a nice condition to have, plus you can spam this to keep AR up when you're not fighting. A consistent if not astounding pick.
[awe] - THIS SUCKS, DON'T USE IT.
[defensive anthem] - It's like Aegis, just unstrippable. Nice if you want the added defense.
[hexbreaker aria] - A good no-investment hex removal. Good for relieving pressure.
[focused anger] - Good for maintaining high adrenal use bars.
3.3 energy: As long as you have a quick, spammable adrenal skill, spam that under an Adrenal boost [focused anger] or [dark fury] and you should have all the energy you need.
3.4 Some current builds: Fine, I'll do it. Screw mediocrity, we're getting to the meat of this thing.
12+1+1 Spear Mastery, 11+1 Leadership, 6+1 Command.
[optional][optional][optional]["there's nothing to fear!"]["save yourselves!"][aggressive refrain][focused anger][optional]
This is the best PvE Paragon build you can find, and this is the one I will advocate. Your first two slots, which I've labeled as optional, are attack skills. I like to shamelessly bum off Racthoh and use [vicious attack] and [swift javelin]. Vicious attack is pretty nice Deep wound spam and swift javelin is solid unblockable damage when running around with an Orders Necromancer. Your third skill should be some sort of support, preferably damage. [anthem of envy], [ebon battle standard of honor], [anthem of disruption] are all good choices, preferably EBSoH. Increase your damage output with this slot. TNTF is game-breaking damage mitigation couple with some very slight power healing. There's absolutely no reason why this shouldn't be on your bar. SY! is similarly outstanding damage mitigation.
+100 armor will reduce damage taken by 82.5%
Couple this with TNTF and your party is invincible. Aggressive Refrain for an IAS, and sig of return OR ["for great justice!"] (depending on how mighty you are).
[spear of fury] vs. [ebon battle standard of honor] - They're quite close and it comes down to personal preference in my opinion. I like EBSoH more because I run around with lots of physical characters. Placing this ward in the frontline allows all physicals to benefit from its effects. The party-wide damage buff seriously pulls ahead of the strong single-target damage Spear of Fury grants.
In terms of adrenaline gain, with an Orders/Focused Anger combo, your adrenaline should be fine to keep ["save yourselves!"] up constantly.
If you're 4-man vanquishing, take Spear of Fury. 8 man groups, however, I suggest taking EBSoH
You can attempt other builds with varying degrees of utility, but SY! and TNTF should be on your bar simply because they can be.
To construct another build, here's a conceptual non-Imbagon build (Why you'd run non-imbagon, I don't know. Being unique=/=useful)
[Blazing spear][merciless spear][stunning strike][anthem of envy][anthem of flame]["they're on fire!"][aggressive refrain][optional]
Sure, while this build will work just great, it's definitively weaker.
As I stated above, Paragon skills generally have excellent synergy with each other; a spammable shout combined with party buffs and damage attacks will be immensely useful on any team.
Of course, I must go with the Imbagon build. I'm here to recommend you the best options, to give you a good idea of what's the most viable.
3.5 Other professions: For secondaries, you have an interesting set of options. Warrior gives you ["shields up!"] and ["save yourselves!]. Mesmer gives you interrupts like [power return],[cry of frustration],[power spike], and [expel hexes]. This however should probably be reserved for the PvP format of Guild Wars. Ranger, Elementalist, Monk, Dervish, Assassin afford you little in the mode of options. Ritualist gives you [Death pact signet] and little else. I like necromancer occasionally for [enfeebling blood] but that's pretty much it and can be accomplished by [anthem of weariness].
The bottom line is that the classes with innate energy management built in work together almost flawlessly.
Warriors (adrenaline is basically an energy management mechanic arguably), Necromancers, Dervishes, Assassins, and Paragons work together quite fluidly, as the infinite energy each class can obtain can fuel very powerful bars in a party. Pretty much making one of those and throwing it in a well-organized group with the others will win PvE.
A combination of all of them makes for incredibly strong groups.
4. Heroes and Henchies: Synergy is key.
You will traditionally want other paragons with you to maintain a web of defensive and offensive buffs through shouts and chants. Other physicals will benefit greatly from the offensive buffs you can spew forth.
Elementalists and mesmers...eh...not so much.
I will direct you to Racthoh's thread for a more in depth look at Paragon hero setups in Racthoh's thread, but here I can say that physicals with damage buffs through [splinter weapon] [order of pain] [dark fury] and the like will win PvE.
Many have cited Racthoh's orders Dervish as clumsy.
To an extent, I agree. While the heals are nice, they can be slow and the Orders can be done more efficiently (in my not-so-humble opinion) by a Necromancer.
Before I get to that, some have brought up the point of trying a [ether renewal] powered Orders. Sure, you'll have infinite energy to power whatever you want. Bear in mind however that the hero will take burdensome amounts of micro-management. I have tried it myself and it's quite clumsy; the only reason you'd do it is if you don't mind the micro-management and you really seriously desire slotting in elementalist utility skills like [blinding flash], [ward against melee], etc. Also, with an ele Orders, bear in mind - your elite spot is taken; this is another problem I have with the D/N Orders.
Let's look at a Necromancer for Orders. A human is optimal for this, if only for [great dwarf weapon], but we're assuming it's a hero, so that's out.
The Necromancer can manage its energy perfectly. Soul Reaping is already powerful enough, but other boosts to that include [masochism] and [signet of lost souls]. I've personally found the two preferred secondaries to be monk and ritualist.
With the necromancer, your elite is open. This allows for the necromancer to go [order of pain][dark fury][blood renewal][optional][optional][optional][optional][optional][optional]
Couple of nice options -
[Icy veins] - Nice AoE, but it'll get really pummeled in Hard Mode.
[Well of Power] - Simple overall party support, not to mention corpse control
[Life transfer] - Newly buffed, it's not terrible anymore, and the life regeneration is nice for an Orders character.
With monk -
[Signet of removal] - I really like this elite, mainly for its utility, especially in hex-heavy areas. Couple this with [smite hex] and/or [smite condition] and your orders is seriously relieving pressure off monks.
[Aegis] - In PvE, this can mitigate lots of damage, and with the attribute spread it's easily manageable.
With ritualist -
[splinter weapon] - You knew it was coming.
[ancestor's rage] - Cheap and spammable.
I also like Warriors in my party. Having an Orders in the party + warriors means that they can spam their attacks easily and their DPS simply owns face. Truth be told, I like to run around with an [earth shaker] warrior in my party when dual-human vanquishing; it makes mobs explode quite fast.
Anyway, peace out.