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Guardian changes are addressing a real problem, but the solution may be elsewhere.

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Guardian is ubiquitous. You will usually find at least one in a sample size of ten players for any group content game mode. The reasons are many, but the main ones are that it is an easy class to pick up and play, that it provides enough utility and variety across its specs to attract most types of players, and that it is effective in the roles for which it was made. In other words: it is fun, and it is meta.

I have never heard anyone say they wish guardian was less fun. Where there ceases to be an overwhelming consensus is on the subject of whether or not guardian should be quite so meta. Which is why it so bemuses me that most of the recent changes to guardian, as well as the chorus that follows them, seem to be centered around the class's capacity for fun. It appears as if players with a horse in the race would be completely fine with a reduction in power so long as the tradeoff was an equivalent increase in fun. But fun cannot be quantified. Thus we arrive at our problem.

How do we make, much less keep, a class fun, while toning down its power?

A class's power is inextricably linked to the enjoyment people get while playing it. The easily drawn conclusion here is that power lets people do better, doing better is fun, ergo, power is fun. The parallel connection is harder to make, but it is there. Having fun engages people, engagement makes people do better, doing better increases power, therefore, fun is power. Neither makes the other materialize out of thin air, but they coexist and compliment each other to an extent. To clarify this relationship further, I will posit that power encourages people to tap into the intrinsic fun of the class, and fun encourages people to tap into the intrinsic power of the class. What this reveals to us is that no matter how fun it is, a class cannot let us have more power than it was designed to. And no matter how powerful it is, it will not be more fun than was made possible by the balancing team (who adjusts the power levels of every other class to keep this one in check).

Though that last thought is parenthetical in writing, it is absolutely not parenthetical in importance. In fact, it may be the key to solving this problem once and for all. To illustrate, let's take a look at the most ubiquitous guardian spec, firebrand. The tome and mantra changes increased the class's overall complexity but did not meaningfully alter its power level. The effect was that it gave some longtime players a breath of fresh air, as they could now flex their knowledge and optimize their strategies to squeeze out any potential power gain from the added complexity. It gave other longtime players a knuckle sandwich, as they were being told to manage more resources and cooldowns without seeing a measurable boost to power in return. Regardless of which side someone takes, one sentiment seems to go unchallenged. Firebrand will continue to see play until something else comes along that can do what it does.

Guild Wars 2 has prided itself on its transcendence of the holy trinity of RPG classes, and rightfully so. Having more options simultaneously increases a class's power and its complexity. Options are being given to and taken away from guardian as if it exists in a bubble. The problem of its power can perhaps only be truly resolved by addressing the problem of its ubiquity.  And the problem of its ubiquity can perhaps only be truly resolved by addressing the power of every other class.

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I think a big part of guardian's popularity isn't really overt power, it's utility and ease of use. Guardian has long been known as the support profession and a beginner-friendly profession due to its passive abilities and defensive options. With the rise of support roles in the game itself, not just the meta, guardian's reputation made it a natural pick for those who want versatility and support. In short, it's a very well designed class, and I'd rather see other classes brought up to its level rather than trying to drag guardian down. 

Recent patches have done just that and broadened utility and support options for other classes, and they are getting used in more roles now, but they just don't have the rep yet -- or they just aren't there yet.

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