A tale of three trees

PEZ - Eyrda
PEZ - Eyrda Posts: 466 Arc User
edited March 2012 in Protector Discussion
Being level 79, having played for a full year now, and having tried all three trees multiple times on my Protector, I think I am qualified to discuss the pros and cons, and the mechanics of each tree as well as anyone else can. This is less of a discussion of optimising each individual tree, and more of a comparison between all three.

For starters, slight hybrid builds are extremely effective builds for protectors. High-end talents are powerful, so don't go 50/50. However, surprisingly, low-end talents are extremely beneficial complements to otherwise one-sided builds. For this reason I recommend that every protector consider a hybrid build.

DIAMOND:
LEVELING-
This is the tree I used to level up the majority of my time and levels. It was fun for downtime duels and such, the damage was great (compared to other classes, not other builds), but I felt there was something lacking. It's clear that this tree is geared towards PvP, specifically arena. You have insignificant AoE, making God's Trial a nightmare to complete. Since that's the majority of what I did to level up, it was frustrating to keep this build.

Weekly/daily events, like FK and gear instances for luck quests are miserable. You can't hold aggro with this build, so you feel useless as a single target DD.

DAMAGE-
Force of Fury is wonderful. Unfortunately attack is a low stat for protectors so the base damage isn't superb. In fact, base damage applied to skills is pretty bad in general for protectors. Counterstrike only exacerbates this issue, as it reduces your attack damage significantly, which is a shame because this skill increases your fury generation, making it a much desired skill to use.

I believe the Crushing Rage talents are bugged, which is terrible because that's what makes this tree a wrecking ball. It's supposed to give up to +30% crit chance, which SHOULD stack with your base crit chance, giving you a total of 42% crit chance (with some additions). The crit chance increase is noticible, but nowhere near 42%. More often than not I would go over 5 subsequent casts before proccuring a crit--that's a 2.5% chance of happening, and yet that seemed to be the base line. Not to mention, crit damage is not a clear priority for a protector, so crits are not as powerful as other classes.

Soul of the Land is, ironically, best used as a PvE skill where all of your party members are nailing their rotation without hesitation. I found that--conisdering how much time you spent getting kited, how long the cast time is, and how good your other skills are--it was almost always preferrable to cast another spell in a PvP setting. A hybrid build with talents in the Granite Fury Lock was always appealing, though I moved on to Granite as a primary before trying this build.

MITIGATION-
This tree is god-awful at tanking. You won't hold aggro, and if you do, you won't tank as well as some mages can, to be honest. You're basically a DD, which there are plenty of, and better ones too.

ENTERTAINMENT-
The stun power is what makes this tree fun, but the RNG factor often outweighs the skill required to set up a kill. The only time you're guaranteed a stun is with full fury stacks, but even then, your stun can be negated or you can miss with poor accuracy. You might think the solution is to stack accuracy, but this only creates another problem--poor mitigation. You can't get accuracy on your arena set, so you have to go custom. That means you're a glass cannon, and apart from the damage you'll recieve, the CC from water classes will **** you up good. What good is accuracy if you never get the chance to attack? I used to have the highest acc as a prot on my server, if not the highest of anyone. I boast learning about the importance of accuracy before most people considered stacking it, and yet I hate the idea of it. Even with the increased base accuracy that you get as a prot, it's never enough. You'll still miss, and nothing is more infuriating than missing a stun at a critical moment. Followed by getting ice blocked and watching your target get healed up to full health, you'll want to throw your computer out the window.



GRANITE:
LEVELING-
Granites are geared towards PvP even more so than Diamonds. You'll still feel like a single target DD, with most of your skills added affects being totally useless. That being said, the Granite tree seems to perform better on a day to day basis than the Diamond tree. Your damage is better, your mitigation is better, but your rotation is soul numbing. Granite skills are meant for PvP fights which last 30 seconds to a minute. Those same skills used in a PvE fight which can last 20 minutes is miserable. Expect a lot of repetition, making your daily grind even more of a grind. This tree is almost impossible to deal with at low levels. Luckily leveling is easier now than it was when I started playing, and many things are now free, so changing trees after using another to level is advised.

DAMAGE-
I was surpised at how well this tree performs, especially at high levels. I would not recommend anyone trying this tree before level 75. This sucks, because if you chose to level with another three, most of your damage up until this point will be Earth. Unless you plan on CSing heavily, your priority will be 90% light mastery, which means you'll likely level up using Earth spells with little to no added Earth mastery. They pay off is worth it though.

Might of Light makes you the best DPSer a prot can be. The reduced cooldown on your light spells allows you to pummel them out at lightning speed--relatively speaking of course, as prots are the slowest casters, but this tree is still faster than the other two. The increased crit chance can get you up to 21% base crit chance (with some additions), which is astounding for a prot. Using an Elixir of Legends, should you need to PvE for dailys and whatnot, will only make you more of a wrecking ball, though still only single target DD. Unfortunately, most of your debuffs are useless against mobs, so expect to be pure damage.

Since light resistance is underestimated in arena, expect to see some pretty big numbers in arena. Given your light mastery, crit chance, heal debuffs, and fast casting for less kiting, you can expect to set up quick kills on priority targets like priests, if not solo them to death yourself.

MITIGATION-
The Soul of Protection talents are amazing. Every tree should have this option, but only granite does, making it a much envied, though not as profficient tank. This talent option prolongs the effect of Counter Strike, allowing you to keep your max Counter Strike stacks while effectively executing your rotation, something a marble can struggle with. This means a constant +300 defense buff, a huge additional buff in both PvE and PvP considering the primary purpose for Counter Strike in this tree is to deal damage--and at a long range too, allowing you to fight back against kiting, roots and slows. I owe the Granite tree for showing me the importance of this skill in all settings.

I'm a bit iffy on the reisistance auras. The pairings are odd, like earth and wind for some reason. Cast time and cooldown are too long to make tactical switching a possibility. I don't bother using them unless there is already another prot in the party.

Defensive Assist and Blessings of Rocks are great in any party. One has a low cooldown and both are extremely powerful, making you a possible tank, off-tank, or support. They work against many powerful PvE boss attacks and can prevent a wipe. Unfortunately the range is low, so they require communication with your team to pull off.

ENTERTAINMENT-
Like I said, this tree is the most boring of all three trees in day to day activites. The fun will come from the interesting play style in arena. Granite is the least used tree, so other people, even other prots don't know how to approach you in a fight.



MARBLE:
LEVELING-
By far the easiest tree to level, because leveling is primarily PvE, and this is the best PvE tree available to prots. Nice AoE, nice mitigation for less deaths, which leads to faster instance completion. MGT is easy with a basic build, but if you build your character with MGT in mind--shattershards, ragefires, mastery--you'll be hitting 150K total damage per Upheaval. Questing is easier, because you can safely gather up more mobs as a marble than any other tree, and soulforce them.

DAMAGE-
Entrench and Protection Mastery are wonderful. They allow you to fulfill your role as a tank without taking a hit to your damage output. This also improves your Retaliation Aura, making you a great big barbed obstacle for squishy DD. In duels, you can beat mages without ever hitting them. In arena, they kill themselves with 1 or 2 AoEs. Single target damage is still fairly low, definitely the least out of the three. Magma Burst and Energy of the Land greatly compensate for this giving you great AoE damage.

MITIGATION-
Counter Strike is crazy--21% reduced damage taken, +6% defense, +300 defense. Soul of Stone-- 60% reduced damage taken for 15 seconds on a 2 min cooldown. 'nuff said.

ENTERTAINMENT-
If you love PvE you'll love this class. If you hate PvE, you'll hate this class. You can get by in PvP, but you'll still be worse off than the other two classes.
Post edited by PEZ - Eyrda on
[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
The servers are extended gutters and the gutters are full of nova packs and when the drains finally scab over, all the players will drown. The accumulated wealth of all their orb opening and +12 refining will foam up about their waists and all the noobs and elites will look up and shout "Thank you!"

... and I'll whisper "Rollback."

Comments

  • Unbrokenable - Lionheart
    Unbrokenable - Lionheart Posts: 313 Arc User
    edited March 2012
    I've also spent a moderate amount of time as all 3 trees, so I'll add some thoughts.


    Diamond:

    Instances: I haven't felt nearly as miserable as you with instances. Sure I can't AoE aggro for ****, and I lose aggro to properly built warriors/sins all the time, but I still do enough damage to not consider myself useless. And the fact remains that if I am allowed to tank (via my team giving me some time to build aggro) I am still the best tank because of the still-amazing damage reduction.

    Soul of the Land: is still one of your best skills because of the base attack modifier (150%). The only skills that will go higher than that are Counter-Strike (with talents) and Force of Fury. The downside is the 2.5s cast. The more I invest in gear/mastery the more I trend towards this preference: Force of Fury > Soul of the Land > Earthen Penance > Counter-Strike. Although even Counter-Strike might get uprooted for an Earth skill when I hit enough mastery.

    Counter-Strike: The damage-reduction from this is increasingly negligible the more you beef up your prot (what's 100 damage compared to a 10000-damage attack?) It's also extremely hard to get more than 1 stack of guardian mode without the Marble cooldown-reduction talent. I actually put 5 points in granite making this 195% base attack, making one of it my hardest hitting skills.

    Water classes: They are annoying. However, with the exception of water bards (which are stun immune) you can deal with them to some extent. Absolute Counter-Measure more or less screws over an ice mage or glacial priest for the duration of it. The damage from retaliation aura is a constant thorn in their side as well. I generally use ABS to create an opportunity to get to them to smash their faces in. They still have a big advantage unless you use Rocky, but it's not hopeless.


    Granite:

    Soul of Protection: I actually disagree that this is useful at all. The reason being that Counter-Strike ends up being your highest-DPS skill and thus most-spammed skill. I never even have a problem with the guardian buff wearing off unless I'm stunned for some absurd amount of time, in which case I'll build back 3 stacks in 5 seconds anyway.

    Resistance Auras: I actually love these, especially since with the talent they give accuracy to your party. I've found switching between them is kinda buggy; the additional buffs such as the accuracy buff get buggy unless you turn the aura off before putting another on. However, setting the aura to their most threatening player of the moment helps your party survivability a lot.

    My problem with granite has always been the susceptibility to CC. Compared to granite they have no way to deal with it other than popping long-CDs (Rocky or speed buff) or hoping they're in Counter-Strike range. That and the inability to pump out any significant CC of your own. It's for this reason that I prefer Diamond for PvP despite the strengths of Granite.


    Marble:

    Nothing much to add here. Marble is amazing for PvE.


    Hybrids:

    I think the most viable hybrid I can think of right now is a diamond grabbing Counter-Strike talents from every tree. This lets you have a low-CD Counter-Strike with 195% damage (unfortunately it's impossible to hit the CDR in Granite, else it'd be a 1s CD Counter-Strike with 195% damage...), while still having a good amount of CC ability from Diamond.

    The only problem I see with this is training mastery is going to be awkward, since buffing your main damage skill does nothing for every other skill you'll use. That's basically the only reason I haven't attempted it.
  • PEZ - Eyrda
    PEZ - Eyrda Posts: 466 Arc User
    edited March 2012
    Instances: And the fact remains that if I am allowed to tank (via my team giving me some time to build aggro) I am still the best tank because of the still-amazing damage reduction.

    Trust me. On a PvP server, people spend crazy money. There's nothing a decent prot can do to outdamage a mage with all +12, high mastery, and a crit crit build. Keeping agro with marble is hard. It's impossible with a diamond build, because you can't match the damage and your taunt is on a 15-20 second cooldown.
    Soul of the Land: is still one of your best skills because of the base attack modifier (150%).

    That's not a very good attack modifier at all. I assume you're going precise-stout, which means the only extra damage you'll get beyond the terrible base damage that prots have is going to be through ragefire gems. I can't imagine a build (beyond full +12) that has full ragefires, so best case you're going to get a few extra hundred attack. This pales in comparison to the 5000+ bonus damage of the skill. If you have really high mastery, then this skill pays of best of all. Otherwise, chain stunning and buffing counterstrike damage is more enticing, both of which you'll get if you opt for the Fury Lock in the granite tree.
    Soul of Protection: I actually disagree that this is useful at all. The reason being that Counter-Strike ends up being your highest-DPS skill and thus most-spammed skill. I never even have a problem with the guardian buff wearing off unless I'm stunned for some absurd amount of time, in which case I'll build back 3 stacks in 5 seconds anyway.

    You can't build 3 stacks in 5 seconds. Just saying. And the first stack is just as important as the last stack, because it gives you 10% reduced damage taken and increased fury generation. What happens if you get feasted or slept, or iced or stunned out of range? It's nice to have those extra seconds of reduced damage taken.
    My problem with granite has always been the susceptibility to CC. Compared to granite they have no way to deal with it other than popping long-CDs (Rocky or speed buff) or hoping they're in Counter-Strike range. That and the inability to pump out any significant CC of your own. It's for this reason that I prefer Diamond for PvP despite the strengths of Granite.

    True, but it's not always about you. What's better: You being more immune to CC through ACM, or your team being completely immune to CC through Blessing of Rocks? That talent wrecks an enemies feast/sleep before teamwide badge use even has to be considered.



    Anything I left out I generally agreed with.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The servers are extended gutters and the gutters are full of nova packs and when the drains finally scab over, all the players will drown. The accumulated wealth of all their orb opening and +12 refining will foam up about their waists and all the noobs and elites will look up and shout "Thank you!"

    ... and I'll whisper "Rollback."
  • Unbrokenable - Lionheart
    Unbrokenable - Lionheart Posts: 313 Arc User
    edited March 2012
    Trust me. On a PvP server, people spend crazy money. There's nothing a decent prot can do to outdamage a mage with all +12, high mastery, and a crit crit build. Keeping agro with marble is hard. It's impossible with a diamond build, because you can't match the damage and your taunt is on a 15-20 second cooldown.
    I'll take your word for this. Not being super-CSed myself I can't really compare the aggroing at that level.

    That's not a very good attack modifier at all. I assume you're going precise-stout, which means the only extra damage you'll get beyond the terrible base damage that prots have is going to be through ragefire gems
    I was under the impression prots had one of the highest attack stats on gears?

    You can't build 3 stacks in 5 seconds. Just saying. And the first stack is just as important as the last stack, because it gives you 10% reduced damage taken and increased fury generation. What happens if you get feasted or slept, or iced or stunned out of range? It's nice to have those extra seconds of reduced damage taken.
    Okay, I lied slightly...it takes 6.5s (1.5 + 1 + 1.5 + 1 + 1.5). At level 80 the natural course of action is 5 points in Marble to reduce CS cooldown to 1s. I feel like 300 def isn't going to be a life-or-death situation though; 300 reduced damage on say a 10k (?) hit isn't that large of a fraction of the damage.

    True, but it's not always about you. What's better: You being more immune to CC through ACM, or your team being completely immune to CC through Blessing of Rocks? That talent wrecks an enemies feast/sleep before teamwide badge use even has to be considered.
    How I feel about this is you end up becoming mostly a buff-paperweight. Sure you increase team resistance, can cancel out like a feast or so, but beyond that you're just doing some token damage (when you can actually get to someone anyway, I've had problems with this as granite...). Especially in 3v3 arena when you only have 2 teammates, one of which is probably a healer, this means you're pinning all your hopes on that one DPS on your team. In 6v6 this has considerable utility but you still have the paperweight problem.

    ACM actually helps your teammates against CC as well, since it's generally AOEs that are going to proc hits on ACM. Blessing of rocks is better -- but it has a much much longer CD. And CCing more enemies as a diamond does help your team.

    Ultimately both talents *will* help the team. It's just that playing a granite is so much more frustrating and utterly dependent on teammates.
  • PEZ - Eyrda
    PEZ - Eyrda Posts: 466 Arc User
    edited March 2012
    How I feel about this is you end up becoming mostly a buff-paperweight. Sure you increase team resistance, can cancel out like a feast or so, but beyond that you're just doing some token damage (when you can actually get to someone anyway, I've had problems with this as granite...). Especially in 3v3 arena when you only have 2 teammates, one of which is probably a healer, this means you're pinning all your hopes on that one DPS on your team. In 6v6 this has considerable utility but you still have the paperweight problem.

    ACM actually helps your teammates against CC as well, since it's generally AOEs that are going to proc hits on ACM. Blessing of rocks is better -- but it has a much much longer CD. And CCing more enemies as a diamond does help your team.

    Ultimately both talents *will* help the team. It's just that playing a granite is so much more frustrating and utterly dependent on teammates.

    I guess it depends largely on the skill level of your server. Eyrda is old, so people at my level have been playing for a year now and know how to shut down each class. For prots, that means dark bonds and transformation, both of which shut down your ACM. A good team will ignore the prot on the enemy team and go for the squishier heroes.

    I use that fact to my advantage, and--believe it or not--play a granite as though I was a sin in a 6v6. Not exactly, but, you know, more covert than other builds. Don't run in like a diamond, guns blazing rambo style trying to AoE/debuff pissing off everyone you can, because you're just going to get aggro from their CC. I hang back and debuff the first warrior to charge. Then I weave through the enemy AoEs to get to the healer near the back.

    At this point, they aren't worried about you because they don't know you're granite, and they're bubbled so they just stand there letting you hit them because you aren't stunning yet and you're not doing great damage--though still good enough to spawn orbs because everyone has low light resistance. What you are doing, which they don't realize, is that you're working on a -70% heal reduction and a -90 resistance debuff across the board, AND a -4% crit dodge debuff. More often then not, they'll stand there and take it, and when their bubble wears off, racial stun and call a warrior to help you finish this healer off.

    Granite is by no means a DPS in PvP. I like to think of it as a snowballing build. You start off average, but given enough time--not that much considering the low cd on your light skills--you grow greater and greater in threat, being able to kill almost anyone through any heals. It's less about constant damage and more about getting that devastating crit in at the last second before they are saved.

    You're weak at delivering CC, and great at recieving it unfortunately; but to be perfectly honest, if you want to be a CC, you should have been an ice mage because they are the most annoying class in the game. I think this is a problem with every class, because everyone seems to complain about another class that counters them. The good thing about granite though is that your crit chance is so high that you don't really need to pound away at an emeny uninterrupted. You just need 1 or 2 hits with a lucky crit to get that kill.

    And of course, the best thing about granite is the variety of builds. I can't say any build is better than another, but the way I built mine satisified my gameplay style and I found it to be far more fun that diamond.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    The servers are extended gutters and the gutters are full of nova packs and when the drains finally scab over, all the players will drown. The accumulated wealth of all their orb opening and +12 refining will foam up about their waists and all the noobs and elites will look up and shout "Thank you!"

    ... and I'll whisper "Rollback."
  • Unbrokenable - Lionheart
    Unbrokenable - Lionheart Posts: 313 Arc User
    edited March 2012
    At this point, they aren't worried about you because they don't know you're granite, and they're bubbled so they just stand there letting you hit them because you aren't stunning yet and you're not doing great damage--though still good enough to spawn orbs because everyone has low light resistance. What you are doing, which they don't realize, is that you're working on a -70% heal reduction and a -90 resistance debuff across the board, AND a -4% crit dodge debuff. More often then not, they'll stand there and take it, and when their bubble wears off, racial stun and call a warrior to help you finish this healer off.

    One problem is that the heal-reduction/crit-dodge debuff from Fury of Light only applies if they are below 50% health. I've found it's really hard to pull off a 2s cast skill in this interval before they heal back up. And stacking the resistance debuff isn't easy either; all it takes is some slight amount of CC or kiting for them to lose the debuff stacks you've built on them.

    The reason I tried granite in the first place is because these debuffs sounded really nice on paper, but I almost never manage to stay on someone long enough for this to work.