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Caster weapon guide

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In the world of Guild Wars, there are two main options when it comes to what weapon a caster should use: a two-handed staff or a wand/focus item combination. The discussion whether a wand/focus combo or a staff is superior is as old as the game itself. Depending on the occasion, even other weapons may be used.

Weapon Sets

  1. Wand and focus item - typical weapon combination for a caster
  2. Staff - combines some properties of a wand and focus item and gives access to some new properties
  3. Wand and shield - combines some spell casting mods with extra armor and health
  4. Martial weapon and focus item - Allows combination of 20% enchanting weapon with a 20/20 focus
  5. Martial weapon and shield - Allows combination of 20% enchanting or +30 health with extra armor and health

Styles of casters

"Button-mashers" or "Spammers"

For casters who want weapons that enhance their ability to be constantly spamming a handful of spells, you want to look for good "HSR" and "HCT" bonuses, as well as taking into consideration the attribute spread and casting time / recharge time of your spells.

  • If all the spells you want to spam are in a single attribute, consider getting a set of 20/20 wand and focus item in that attribute. This gives you 36% chance in half casting time and half recharge time of your spells.
    • Alternately, if you have enough spells with short recharges so that halving recharge time isn't all that important, consider using a focus item that gives 20% +1 attribute "while using spells" and 20% HCT instead.
  • If most of the spells you want to spam spreads into two attributes, consider getting a 20/20 wand in one attribute while 20/20 focus in the other.

Enchantment-based

  • Naturally, a staff is the ideal choice for any enchantment-based build due to its +20% enchantment length mod. Alternately, a Sword or an Axe can be used in conjunction with a shield to gain extra armor at the expense of damage output.
  • Because most enchantments are long lasting but have a long recharge, a HSR mod matching your enchantment attribute might be a good modification as well. However, staves have this mod built in, making this more a convenience than a necessity.

Survival

  • Using a Staff or a Spear/Focus combo can give two separate unconditional +30 health benefits (alternately, one of the +30 unconditional can be switched for +45 or +60 conditional). The Wand/Focus combo cannot do this.
  • Condition-reduction benefits are only available via focus items (or shields).

Hidden reserve

  • It can be helpful to have a set of wand/focus item both with "Energy +15; Energy regeneration -1" bonuses. Usually you don't equip them. However, when you are very low on energy, you can swap to this alternate set of equipment for a quick gain of 30 additional energy, cast an emergency spell or two, then swap back to your normal equipment to get your energy regeneration back.
  • Casters who are holding bundles most of the time, such as certain types of Ritualist builds, might not need to worry about weapon swapping, since the weapons are not considered equipped when a bundle is being held.

Other considerations

  • Some casters may choose to equip a shield instead of a focus item, trading energy for armor, and also to make use of defensive skills that require equipping of a shield.
  • Some casters may choose to wield a spear instead of a wand. Spears can fit 3 bonuses, whereas wands can only fit 2. Do note however that Spearhead bonuses in general aren't very useful to casters except in very special builds/situations.

Appendix: Basic maximum properties

The following lists the possible combination of stats that can be obtained by regular weapons. However, do note that there exist certain items whose bonuses don't fit in the table below.

Notes about the table:

  • Bonuses available for shields is a strict subset of bonuses available for focus items. Shield have 16 armor instead of focus item's 12 energy.
  • Bonuses available for axes, hammers, swords, bows, daggers, and scythes are a strict subset of bonuses available for spears. Their damage, range, attack rate, number of hands required, and vampiric/zealous numbers may differ.

Abbreviations used:

  • HSR x% = Halves skill recharge of spells (of any attribute), with x% chance
  • HSR <attribute> x% = Halves skill recharge of <attribute> spells, with x% chance
  • HCT x% = Halves casting time of spells (of any attribute), with x% chance
  • HCT <attribute> x% = Halves casting time of <attribute> spells, with x% chance
  • Reduces <condition> x% = Reduces <condition> duration on you by 20%
Type Staff ("right") Wand & Focus item Martial weapons
Damage 11~22 11~22 (wand) Variable
Bonus 1
and
Bonus 2
Inscription for staff: Inscription for wand: Inscription for spear:
  • Energy +5 (while Health > 50%)
  • Energy +5 (while Health > 50%)
  • Energy +5
  • Energy +5 (while enchanted)
  • Energy +7 (while Health < 50%)
  • Energy +7 (while hexed)
  • Energy +15; Energy regeneration -1
  • Energy +5 (while enchanted)
  • Energy +7 (while Health < 50%)
  • Energy +7 (while hexed)
  • Energy +15; Energy regeneration -1
  • Damage +15 (while Health > 50%)
  • Damage +15 (while enchanted)
  • Damage +15 (while in a stance)
  • Damage +15 (vs hexed foes)
  • Damage +15; armor -10 (while attacking)
  • Damage +15; Energy -5 (while attacking)
  • Damage +20% (while Health < 50%)
  • Damage +20% (while hexed)
  • Damage +15 (while Health > 50%)
  • Damage +15 (while enchanted)
  • Damage +15 (while in a stance)
  • Damage +15 (vs hexed foes)
  • Damage +15; armor -10 (while attacking)
  • Damage +15; Energy -5 (while attacking)
  • Damage +20% (while Health < 50%)
  • Damage +20% (while hexed)
  • Damage +15 (while Health > 50%)
  • Damage +15 (while enchanted)
  • Damage +15 (while in a stance)
  • Damage +15 (vs hexed foes)
  • Damage +15; armor -10 (while attacking)
  • Damage +15; Energy -5 (while attacking)
  • Damage +20% (while Health < 50%)
  • Damage +20% (while hexed)
  • HCT <attribute> 20%
  • HCT <attribute> 20%
  • HCT 10%
  • HCT 10%
  • HCT 10%
Wand Wrapping:
Inherent:
  • HSR 10%
  • HSR 10%
  • HSR 20%
  • HSR <attribute> 20%
+ Energy +10 +12 (focus item) +0
Bonus 3
and
Bonus 4
Staff Head:
  • Energy +5
  • Health +30
  • Armor +5
Focus Core:
  • HCT 10%
  • HCT <attribute> 20%
  • HCT 10%
  • HCT <attribute> 20%
Staff Wrapping:
  • Health +60 (while Hexed)
  • Health +45 (while Enchanted)
  • Health +45 (while in a Stance)
  • Health +60 (while Hexed)
  • Health +45 (while Enchanted)
  • Health +45 (while in a Stance)
Spear Grip:
  • Health +30
  • Health +30
  • Health +30
  • Armor +5
  • Armor +7 (vs. physical attacks)
  • Armor +7 (vs. elemental attacks)
  • Damage +20% (vs. <species>)
  • Enchantments last 20% longer
Inscription (focus):
  • Armor +5
  • Armor +7 (vs. physical attacks)
  • Armor +7 (vs. elemental attacks)
  • Damage +20% (vs. <species>)
  • Enchantments last 20% longer
  • <attribute> +1 (20% chance)
  • <attribute> +1 (20% chance)
  • Spearmastery +1 (20% chance)
  • HSR <attribute> 20%
Spearhead:
  • HSR 10%
  • Energy +15; Energy regeneration -1
  • Double adrenaline on hit (10% chance)
  • Energy gain on hit: 1; Energy regeneration: -1
  • Received physical damage -5 (20% chance)
  • Received physical damage -2 (while in enchanted)
  • Received physical damage -2 (while in stance)
  • Received physical damage -3 (while hexed)
  • Life stealing: 3; Health regeneration: -1
  • Reduces Bleeding 20%%
  • Reduces Crippled 20%
  • Reduces Dazed 20%
  • Reduces Deep Would 20%
  • Reduces Poison 20%
  • Reduces Weakness 20%
  • Lengthen Bleeding 33%
  • Lengthen Cripple 33%
  • Lengthen Dazed 33%
  • Lengthen Deep Wound 33%
  • Lengthen Poison 33%
  • Lengthen Weakness 33%
  • Reduces Blindness 20%
  • Reduces Disease 20%
  • Armor +10 (vs cold)
  • Armor +10 (vs fire)
  • Armor +10 (vs earth)
  • Armor +10 (vs lightning)
  • Cold damage
  • Fire damage
  • Earth damage
  • Lightning damage
  • Armor +10 (Health < 50%)
  • Armor +10 (while hexed)
  • Armor +10 (vs slashing)
  • Armor +10 (vs blunt)
  • Armor +10 (vs piercing)
  • Armor +5 (while Health > 50%)
  • Armor +5 (while enchanted)
  • Armor +5 (while attacking)
  • Armor +5 (while casting)
  • Armor +5 (vs physical attacks)
  • Armor +5 (vs elemental attacks)
  • Armor +5; Energy -5
  • Armor +5; Health -20
  • Armor penetration +20% (20% chance)

The table shows that most of the trade-offs depends on bonus 3/4.

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