Introduction to Gear in Guild Wars

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, weapons and armor in Guild Wars function differently than in most other MMOs, including its sequel.  Typically, a game has a set of stats, a subset of which are important to your class, and you get a steady flow of gear with increasingly larger numbers in those stats.  That does not happen in Guild Wars at all.  Like in my previous article, I’m going to likely oversimplify and leave out some details, like prestige sets.  Go ahead and tell me I forgot to mention them though.

A weapon my level 20 mesmer got from killing a boss and then passed on to my lowbie ranger. Most things aren't bound in Guild Wars!

A weapon my level 20 mesmer got from killing a boss and then passed on to my lowbie ranger. Most things aren’t bound in Guild Wars!

First of all, how do you get gear?  You can and will get gear as quest rewards and as drops from enemies, some of which (weapons in particular) are very good.  There are however two other means of acquiring weapons and armor: bartering and buying.  Bartering involves finding NPCs called Collectors who trade items for what is otherwise junk dropped by enemies.  This is common in Prophecies specifically.  While you might think “buying” gear is straightforward, remember that this is Guild Wars.

It would be more accurate to say that you are paying the NPC to craft the item you want.  Vendors who sell weapons and armor will have listings that not only include gold prices, but also requisite amounts of materials.  A lot of the drops you get, including weapons and armor of course, can be broken down into materials using Salvage Kits.  You can then trade these materials and pay a fee to get the weapon or armor piece you want from a vendor.  This is the most accessible, if grindy, method of getting great gear.  Now, on to the nitty, gritty details about how gear functions.

Weapon vendor menu showing a staff with max stats along with price.

Weapon vendor menu showing a staff with max stats along with price.

Guild Wars lacks an expanded set of stats.  The basic stats are HP, energy, regeneration for both of those, armor, and damage.  There is no strength, vitality, dexterity, cunning, and so on like you’d find elsewhere.  There are five armor pieces (head, chest, hands, legs, feet) in addition to main hand and off hand items that can be equipped and modified.

I will start with armor.  Armor value in GW is not cumulative.  Instead, when you are hit, the game consults the random number generator to determine where you were hit.  You have a 3/8 chance to be hit in the chest, 2/8 on the legs, and 1/8 each for feet, hands, and head.  When the game decides where you were hit, it takes into account the armor value of that piece to the exclusion of the others.  This is why if you are just starting to upgrade, starting with chest and legs is not a bad idea.

Armor vendor showing one set of mesmer armor. Notice that the "attire" and "hose" are more expensive in materials.

Armor vendor showing one set of mesmer armor. Notice that the “attire” and “hose” are more expensive in materials.

The maximum base armor value is 80, but that will only appear on gear for warriors and paragons.  Rangers, dervishes, and assassins are capped at 70 while the remaining monk, elementalist, necromancer, ritualist, and mesmer cap at 60 per piece.  In addition to this, most headgear will have an inherent +1 to one of your class’s attributes.  Before anyone gets excited, “attributes” in Guild Wars are not like “attributes” in D&D.  You invest points in them in order to gain passive benefits and make certain skills more powerful, meaning they serve the same purpose as skill trees in other games.  Other armor pieces may have different bonuses, usually to energy or energy regeneration.  This varies by class.

I mentioned modification before and here is where it comes in.  Each piece of armor can also bear one insignia and one rune.  You can buy these or salvage them off certain gear drops.  Some are static bonuses, some are not.  Some stack with each other, some do not.  Some are class specific, some are universal.  These bonuses are things like more armor against certain damage types, boosts to attributes, increased HP, or procs.  The last thing to note here is that since chest and legs have a greater chance of being hit compared to the other three armor pieces, they are often more expensive to acquire, but also receive a larger boost from many runes & insignias.

One tab in my bank showing a bunch of runes and insignias. Notice the bonus for the insignia in the tooltip varies with armor piece.

One tab in my bank showing a bunch of runes and insignias. Notice the bonus for the insignia in the tooltip varies with armor piece.

Weapons (and off-hands) are very similar to armor, but there are a few key differences.  While weapons have modifications, they are specific to the weapon type.  For example, bows have grips and strings while staves have a head and wrapping.  They are not universal like runes and insignias.  All main- & off-hand gear has a “third” modification slot: inscriptions.  I used quotation marks because wands, focii, and shields only have one modification besides inscriptions while all other weapons have two.  That leaves most weapons with three modifications.

Let me put all this together.  As you progress through the game, you will acquire items that can be salvaged for materials and you can in turn use those materials to “buy” weapons and armor.  Until you get armor with your class-specific armor value cap or weapons with the highest base damage, you can ignore modifying them.  Once you do have the ability to get these, then you’ll want to look up what’s available to you and choose those modifications that best suit your build.  Most builds you find will list suggestions if nothing else.

To conclude this lengthy article, I offer a tip.  You have several appearance options for gear with max armor value.  There is sadly no gear appearance preview in Guild Wars.  If you want to see which set of armor you prefer, you will want to visit the wiki and type in “[class] armor” to get a gallery of what’s available.  You can access this any time while in game by using the command “/wiki” to minimize the game and launch the site in your default browser.  Convenient, no?

 

Huh, my inserted images are helpful and not just played for jokes this week.  Not sure how I feel about that.  Anyway, feel free to leave comments, questions, compliments, and rare weapon drops below.

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