The purpose of this guide is to give an overview of the Warrior profession's weapon skills. It will give a brief examination of their applications and give you some starting points to make builds around. This guide is by no means exhaustive and is fairly slighted toward my opinion. This guide doesn't give specific builds, but it does give you starting points. Guild Wars 2 offers a lot of build diversity. That is great but can be overwhelming without having a concrete starting spot. Hopefully, this guides gives you a starting point.
Note: I have not played the Warrior in sPvP. But I have several hundred hours logged playing it in WvW and PvE. This guide will focus on the latter two.
I try to link every condition, boon, mechanic, etc, without filling the review entirely with links. If you can't find it then Google is your friend.
Nomenclature for those unfamiliar.
Burst: The Warrior's profession skill. By default it is on F1. It is unique to each weapon and usually has its effect modified by adrenaline.
Adrenaline: The resource used by the Warrior's burst skill. Adrenaline is unique to the Warrior. You generate it by hitting foes. It will lose its charge if you are out of combat. There are ways to generate adrenaline, besides attacking, through traits and skills.
Proc: A proc is an effect that happens as a result of another action. The most common of these in Guild Wars 2 is something that happens "on crit". When that effect triggers as a result of your critical hit that is called a proc. There are also other examples of this (often tied to traits) that I reference in the guide.
CC: "Crowd Control" - These are skills that restrict your target's movement and/or ability to use skills.
AoE: "Area of Effect" - The area in which a skill damages or creates is secondary effect.
Arcing Slice: This skill grants Fury based on Adrenaline Level. This is very lacklaster since you will probably all ready have 100% Fury uptime from another source (For Great Justice or Signet of Rage).
- Greatsword Swing: The auto attack on the GS is a 3 part chain. The first two swings apply one 8 second stack of Vulnerability. The swings have an arc and can hit multiple enemies. Because the third swing does not apply the Vulnerability it you can choose to interrupt it with, for example, the GS #2 skill Hundred Blades.
- Hundred Blades: You've all seen Warriors use this skill ad nauseam. It's a multi-hit, self-rooting (moving while using the skill will cancel it), nuke. It does a ton of damage, and you'll probably use it on cooldown (which is incredibly low) in PvE as most mobs don't move too much and their skills are highly telegraphed. In WvW however, you'll want to immobilize/knockdown/CC your opponent before activating HB because it's easily avoidable. HB can also hit multiple foes infront of you.
- Whirlwind Attack: WW is a directionally targeted, multi-hit, movement skill that is also a whirl finisher. The huge perk of WW is that you evade while in the WW animation (almost 1 full second) essentially providing you with an additional dodge. This is great for when you're using your Hundred Blades (or out of endurance), see the boss begin his nasty attack animation, and need to get out of harms way. It can even be used in the middle of nasty red circles to avoid their damage—avoiding Subject Alpha's nasty AoE is a perfect example of something WW can avoid.
- Bladetrail: BT is a midrange, projectile finisher, 4 second Cripple. 4 seconds isn't very long, however it can hit twice (once when you throw it, and once when your sword "returns" to you) and apply the Cripple both times adding to 8 seconds. Though don't count on it hitting twice. It can be what you need to catch a fleeing enemy in WvW. BT in conjunction with the GS 5 skill is a great way to catch fleeing enemies in WvW.
- Rush: Is a directional movement skill. Rush is great at catching fleeing enemies in WvW or using defensively as a retreating skill to put distance between you and your enemies. Rush can be used with or without a target. Try using it to anticipate where your will be at the end of the Rush as you cannot control your horizontal movement while its active. Rush also has a nasty tendency to get stuck on pesky ledges and rocks that stop you from running forward.
Notes: Consider using Omnomberry Pie food which gives you a chance to steal life on critical hit. You hit a lot of times with the HB and WW. For sigils I would consider Sigil of Strength which gives you a chance to get Might on critical hit (you can even use the major instead of superior to save money) or Sigil of Air for single target DPS.
Earthshaker: This is one of the most satisfying skills to use in the game. It is a ground targeted, 600 range gap closing, blast finisher, AoE stun. The stun duration increases with adrenaline level. A Warrior (or better yet 2-3) running Hammer on the front end of your WvW group is bad news for any invaders you happen across. It is also a strong skill for a solo Warrior to initiate with if you have full adrenaline.
- Hammer Swing: The Hammer's auto attack is a 3 stage chain that does decent melee AoE damage. Not much else to say here because it doesn't apply a boon or condition as part of its chain.
- Fierce Blow: Applies Weakness to your target. Weakness (which only reduces non-critical hit damage) is decent condition if you're 1v1 on a high damage power based target like an D/D Elementalist. Weakness isn't great in PvE where most bosses deal telegraphed damage that should be avoided rather than mitigated.
- Hammer Shock: A great WvW skill that Cripples multiple targets in a line at 600 range. This is a great follow up to Earthshaker to keep your targets within striking distance for you and your teammates.
- Staggering Blow: This skill knocksback melee range foes in a AoE circle around your character. This is another solid AoE control skills the Hammer Warrior has. It's good at creating space for yourself and teammates if you're getting surrounded. It is also another whirl finisher. Whirl finish those light friends from Guardians and you've cleared conditions from friendlies.
- Backbreaker: The last control skill for the Warrior is a 2 second single target knockdown. This is a great 1v1 skill that could be used last in your rotation opening up a weapon swap burst (like Hundred Blades) or a strong initiating skill to get your target to burn their stun break skills.
Notes: The Hammer is a one of the best control weapon sets for any profession. It really shines in WvW. The Hammer also teaches you to pay attention to your opponents boons (which are displayed under their name when you have them selected). If they have Stability, dont burn one of your strong CC's (like Earthshaker) on them. What it gains in control, it sacrifices in DPS compared to other weapon set options. This discourages its use in PvE. Its main use in PvE is removing stacks of Defiant on bosses which is admirable, but DPS is usually preferred.
Combustive Shot: CS is a large AoE Burn that creates a fire combo field and does respectable damage. The fire field compliments the Longbow 3 skill which is a blast finisher for substantial AoE Might. CS is a strong area denial tool in WvW. It also has 1500 range which is very high. Use CS is choke points like tunnels and camp entrances/exits. Also shoot it down on top of siege rams or catapults to buy your keep walls and doors a couple of extra seconds. You probably won't kill many people with CS but you will certainly make them move.
- Dual Shot: The auto attack for the LB fires two arrows. Each of which can proc effects. Additionally they are a 20% chance projectile combo finisher. The range for DS is only 900 which, if you're standing on a keep wall, will barely reach the ground below you.
- Fan of Fire: This is a strong cone AoE projectile that does decent Burning damage. Fire it into a wall of enemies for maximum effectiveness.
- Arcing Arrow: This is your blast finisher. It doesn't do great damage, but the blast finisher makes it a skill you will regularly use. The self combo of Combustive Shot + Arcing Arrow is great for Might stacking
- Smoldering Arrow: SA does basically 0 damage but its an AoE Blind. Situational at best in WvW. Fire it at the front of enemy zergs to mitigate some spike damage that may be coming off the front.
- Pin Down: This is the second reason (after Combustive Shot) to run LB in WvW. It's a 900 range 3 second Immobilize. This comes in very handy when you're trying to chase down enemies. However, it has a 25 second cool down. If your first shot with it doesn't connect, you will probably not be able to catch your target.
Notes: There is an ongoing debate between whether to take the Rifle or the LB as the Warrior's ranged weapon. Rifle does more single target damage while the LB does more AoE. The Rifle rivals the LB in regards to control as well. If you need to kill a lot of mobs or you're in a ranged stalemate with an enemy zerg then the LB will be your friend. However the range can be limiting if you don't pick up Stronger Bowstrings.
Kill Shot: KS is a long channeled, ranged, nuke that does more damage based on adrenaline level. It can do immense damage when traited and at full adrenaline. When in a small group your opponent may not know you are targeting them. Try to take advantage of this, as KS is easily dodged. You can use KS in two ways. First, initiate a fight with it to bury your opponent and force their heal. Second, use KS after skirmishing with your target to finish them off. If you trait and build slightly glassy, then a half or three-quarters health opponent that gets hit with KS will be a downed opponent.
- Bleeding Shot: The auto attack of the Rifle is a low direct damage Bleed. The Bleed is 6 seconds and will stack quickly. This can force your opponent to burn their condition removal. Additionally, the Rifle has 1200 range which puts you comfortably away from your opponents.
- Aimed Shot: AS is a 5 second Cripple. This is really helpful to catch fleeing targets in WvW. It also has a reasonably short cooldown.
- Volley: This is a multi-hit skills that does good damage. Use it after Kill Shot to quickly restore your adrenaline since each hit of Volley will contribute. A KS+Volley combo to initiate a fight, is a very strong opening burst that will bury your opponent.
- Brutal Shot: BS adds five 10 second stacks of Vulnerability. You probably won't use this in WvW (unless you're 1v1) as you will do equivalent DPS by auto-attacking during the channel time of BS. But in PvE you can maintain almost 100% uptime of Vulnerability with this skill when traited. Very good against dungeon bosses.
- Rifle Butt: A strong point blank knockback—your opponent must be right infront of you for this to hit. Its very good at getting advancing enemies off of you so you can setup your Kills Shot or Kill Shot+Volley combo. It is also a really good way to interrupt a foe trying to spike your teammate in WvW.
Notes: You're going to do more DPS in melee, especially in PvE, but the Rifle does amazing single target ranged DPS in WvW especially for something with 1200 range. If you're going to be doing any WvW roaming the Rifle is solid weapon to build around or have on swap. Again, in the Longbow vs Rifle debate, the LB is stronger AoE while the Rifle is stronger single target. Sigil choices are Fire which gives your rifle some AoE capabilities or Intelligence which will give your next attack when switching to that weapon a 100% crit chance. If you're running low crit chance build, skirmish with your opponent and when you get them low switch to Rifle and finish them with a 100% crit chance Kill Shot.
Eviscerate: This burst is a short leap finisher, single target, nuke that deals more damage based on adrenaline level. Eviscerate can hit for almost as much as Kill Shot on the Rifle. It can be devastating to an opponent because there is much less channel animation associated with it compared to Kill Shot. Finish an opponent with Eviscerate late in a fight, or use it early to force their heal.
- Chop: The Chop chain is, I believe, the highest DPS auto attack in the game. For bosses in dungeons all you really have to do is auto attack with axe, Eviscerate when your adrenaline is full, and press the 2 skill when it comes off cooldown.
- Cyclone Axe: This is a whirl finisher that hits twice on each opponent in your melee distance and applies four 8 second stacks of Vulnerability. Seeing as the the cooldown is 6 seconds, you can have 100% uptime of Vulnerability. You know all those combo fields your party puts down? Whirl finishers are great for those. You can try to save CA for when those are down or just stack on the Vulnerability on cooldown.
- Throw Axe: A 900 range Cripple. However, the Cripple is only 4 seconds. That isn't very long, but it can be enough to help catch a fleeing opponent.
Notes: As said above, the axe shines at speed DPS, but it lacks utility. If you're running it make sure your equipment is providing you with high enough crit chance. 50% should be fine because you will probably have Fury from For Great Justice and/or Signet of Rage. Look at Knight's or Berserker's items to give you the power/precision you need to sustain high DPS. As with the Greatsword, you will be hitting a lot so you can use Omnomberry Pie for food.
Skull Crack: A single target stun that increases stun length (up to 2 seconds) based on adrenaline level. A strong control skill but a little lackluster compared to the Hammer.
- Mace Smash: A three part chain that does low damage. The third piece in the chain applies Weakness. Again, Weakness is a somewhat lack luster condition as its damage reduction only applies to non-crits and doesn't effect condition damage.
- Counter Blow: A short block that counters with an attack if you're hit or you gain adrenaline if you don't get hit. I can imagine this being strong in PvP, but in most WvW and PvE situations it would be hard to take advantage of the utility this skill offers.
- Pommel Bash: A short 1 second, single target daze. This gives the Mace an additional control skill with just the main hand.
Notes: Everything the Mace main hand does the Hammer does better. If you're looking for a control weapon in PvE or WvW the Hammer is a better choice both in regards to DPS and general control thanks to its superior AoE. I can imagine the Mace being decent in PvP, but I can't speak from experience. I doubt ANet will give the Warrior another pass any time soon, but I'd love to see them take another look at the Mace. The problem with the Mace is that your damage is pitiful so you will eventually be taken down by your opponent despite prolonging the fight with the Mace's control abilities.
Flurry: A 4 second Immobilize at full adrenaline that does decent direct damage and also eight 2 second stacks of Bleeding which adds up to formidable damage. Four seconds is an eternity for an Immobilize especially in WvW. The Immobilize applies when you use the skill so you can switch weapons, to Greatsword for example and Hundred Blades, or you can keep the Sword out to stack on the Bleeds. Keep in mind for PvE, the Bleeds are the same no matter what your adrenaline level is, so use Flurry on cool down for higher DPS
- Sever Artery: Another 3 piece chain. The first two attacks apply one 8 second stack of Bleeding. The third strike does extra damage. Try not to interrupt the final strike as it will help your DPS.
- Savage Leap: A 600 range leap (that is also a leap finisher). It doesn't do much damage but it's on a short cool down and will let you chase after or retreat from opponents. This is a strong WvW skill that becomes even stronger when traited. You can use this skill with or without a target selected. It is also lets you take advantage of some short cuts in jumping puzzles (unlike some of the teleport skills in the game).
- Hamstring: A 7 second melee range Cripple. This is a solid follow up to Flurry to keep your opponent within striking distance. Again, becomes even stronger when traited (see below).
Notes: The Sword offers great control and decent DPS. It is even good at movement. A sword Warrior if very hard to shake. It's a very strong melee option for WvW. It doesn't offer the same nuke ability as the Greatsword or Axe, but its sustained DPS is respectable and it offers more utility than most main hand weapons. Remember you even have your off hand available to you with a Sword main hand. In PvE, a lot of the utility is wasted and its DPS can't keep pace with some of the other options. Consider Rare Veggie Pizza food to make your Bleeds stick to your opponent for even longer (giving them addition damage tics). You can even stick a Superior Sigil of Agony in there for even more Bleed duration, but you may be better off choosing a direct damage sigil like Force or one of the stack sigils like Bloodlust.
- Dual Strike: This skills grants Fury based on enemies hit within melee range. If you have no other sources of Fury then this is a good skill to get it from, but chances are you'll get it from one of your utility skills.
- Whirling Axe: A long whirl finisher that does big AoE damage in a very largar area. You can move while using this skill as well. It is easily interruptible so its WvW use is limited. But it's a very strong PvE tagging skill that will cut down a lot of mobs. The Axe off hand is a staple if you're running Orr. It is also good at quickly building up your adrenaline as each hit will contribute.
Notes: Off hand sigils are something to keep in mind. Because sigils share proc cooldowns, good off hand options are the static bonus sigils (damage and crit chance) or one the stacking sigils (like power or precision). The choice of which sigil to use is dependent on what the rest of your build is trying to do. The off hand axe doesn't offer you much in WvW because the 5 skill is so easily interruptible, but its a good off hand option for Orr farming. Pair it with the Axe main hand for great PvE mob farming DPS.
- Crushing Blow: Applies four 10 second stacks of Vulnerability. A good source of Vulnerability. You can't keep this up 100% of the time, but you'll probably use it on cool down in PvE.
- Tremor: A line AoE knockdown. This is a strong AoE control skill. Use it to setup your main hand burst skill against opponents in WvW. It is also good for keeping PvE mobs off you. Use it to give yourself space if too many mobs are breathing down your neck while you're trying to take down an objective.
Notes: Pair the Mace with main hand Axe for the highest single target DPS combination at the Warriors disposal. Use the two weapons' Vulnerability skills on cooldown. This is great for speed dungeon farming. Most Warriors who are running Citadel of Flame (Path 1) will run Axe/Mace.
- Shield Bash: SB is a short gap closer, that is a leap finisher, and also stuns your target on impact. It is a good initiation skill to setup your Sword Flurry burst for example. Watch out though, SB likes to get stuck on little rocks and ledges the same way a lot of other movement skills do.
- Shield Stance: Blocks attacks both ranged and melee. A great defensive tool in WvW.
Notes: Shield is a super solid WvW choice and it fills the Sword and Board archetype. It doesn't offer any additional DPS for PvE, so consider switching it out if you're in the open world trying to farm. Shield 5 + Shield 4 + Sword 2 is a get out of jail free card with the Mobile Strikes trait in WvW.
- Impale: A ranged Bleed that does extra damage when you pull out the blade within melee range. The damage is OK, but you can do just as much damage by auto attack with your main hand weapon.
- Riposte: A block that Bleeds your foe if you're hit with melee. If you're not hit you gain adrenaline. The problem with Riposte is that it only blocks 1 attack. Whereas with the Shield it blocks for a duration which can be many attacks avoided.
Notes: The sword off hand is the black sheep of the Warrior's arsenal. It doesn't add any more DPS than whatever main hand option you choose. It doesn't even add any utility. All other off hand options bring so much more to the table. I'd like ANet to take another pass on the Sword off hand.
- Charge: AoE Swiftness for you and your nearby allies. It also cures chilled, crippled, and immobilized. A great skill for roaming Warriors. With the movement condition removal it helps get you out of sticky situations if you haven't all ready used the skill while retreating.
- Call to Arms: Gives you Vigor (dodge recharge rate) and your foes Weakness. Vigor helps a lot in WvW by giving you even more damage mitigation.
Notes: Swiftness is a huge help in WvW and the Warhorn gives you additional access to it besides Signet of Rage. Use the Warhorn 4 to speed up NPCs such as Dolyaks in WvW or PvE Dynamic Event NPCs who are too slow. If you're trying to do map completion in PvE the Warhorn is great, but it doesn't help you too much when it comes to farming.