A warder is an animal companion summoned by beastlords of level 8 and above.
The warder serves as the beastlord class's permanent pet and is among the strongest permanent pets in the game, with only the specialized elemental pets of the magician standing in competition to its power.
Species and NameEdit
The species of warder summoned by a beastlord corresponds to that beastlord's chosen race:
- Vah Shir beastlords summon a tiger.
- Barbarian beastlords summon a white wolf.
- Ogre beastlords summon a bear (low-poly, older model).
- Troll beastlords summon a basilisk (formerly an alligator, but this was changed many years ago).
- Iksar beastlords summon a green chokidai (scaled wolf).
Species differences between the warders are purely cosmetic, but they add some racial roleplaying flavor to the class.
Unless it has been renamed using a Potion of Companion's Amnesia, a beastlord's warder will always be named "Soandso's warder," where "Soandso" is the name of the beastlord. This makes it easy to associate a warder and its master when looking around the world in-game, or when parsing a combat log to determine DPS.
Statistics, Abilities, and Related BuffsEdit
Warders are well-balanced melee pets that both deal and endure damage well. They are not as dependable at tanking as a magician's air or earth pets (but deal more damage than either) and are not as effective at dealing melee damage as the magician's water pet (but are considerably more tanky).
The warder depends heavily on buffs provided by the beastlord, since the the warder possesses no innate procs or offensive spells of its own, and lacks (for instance) the iconic high base health of a magician's earth pet or the high base damage of a fire pet.
The number and complexity of these buffs starts out small and simple but increase dramatically as the beastlord grows in level. Nearly all of them stack with each other, with a very few exceptions in which certain buffs are mutually exclusive, or are limited by a long cooldown or brief duration.
The following, in order of acquisition, is a list of effects warders can gain from their master's pet-only buffs:
- The ability for the warder's melee swings to proc direct damage, from a line of pet buffs beginning with the level 13 Spirit of Lightning. This buff line is upgraded regularly as the beastlord levels up.
- 60% melee haste, along with extra strength, armor class, and attack rating, from a line of pet buffs beginning with the level 37 Yekan's Quickening.
- The haste percentage and other statistics all increase as the line of buffs gets upgraded over the levels.
- From the level 68 Growl of the Beast onward, the strength component gets replaced by a more useful flat percentage damage increase to melee swings, similar to the effects gained from a shaman or druid's mammoth buffs.
- The ability for the warder to completely block a set number of incoming melee or spell strikes on-demand, beginning with the level 49 Ward of Calliav buff.
- The ability for the warder's melee swings to proc a snare effect, from the Hobble of Spirits AA pet buff, which can be purchased from level 59 onward.
- The ability to increase the warder's melee damage, temporarily, by an even larger percentage than the haste buffs passively provide, while also being healed over time, through a line of buffs beginning with the level 61 Growl of the Leopard.
- This type of buff provides the same benefits to the beastlord as well.
- The ability for their melee swings to proc a an attack speed slow, beginning with the level 75 Steeltrap Jaws buff. (This proc buff can only fire twice before it fades, meaning that it needs to be recast by the beastlord frequently if it is being relied upon as a source of attack speed slowing.)
- With the level 80 Lockfang Jaws onward, this debuff proc gains a small [DoT]] component.
- The ability to mitigate incoming spell damage by a large percentage, with an increased chance to resist damaging spells outright, from a line of buffs beginning with the level 75 Spellbreaker's Guard.
- The ability to proc a healing spell on its target's target, from a line of buffs beginning with the level 83 Friendly Pet buff.
- This proc can fire a limited number of times before the beastlord will need to recast the buff - eight charges in the original Friendly Pet buff, and sixteen charges in its upgrades in later expansions.
- The ability to shift into a more defensive or more offensives state, through two lines of buffs beginning at level 87. Only one of these buffs can be active on the warder at a time, but they have no cooldown timer and can be switched between with relative ease if the beastlord is willing to memorize the spell(s) in order to do so. Their effects are as follows:
- The ability to proc an Incapacitate-like debuff (strength, agility, and armor debuff) on the warder's target, while applying a Prism Skin buff to itself, from the Withering Bite buff at level 97.
The warder can also benefit from any of the targetable buffs the beastlord can provide to players, such as the Ferocity line and Talisman line. If the master has purchased the Pet Affinity AA, other group buffs like the higher-level spells the Spiritual Brawn line can also affect the warder.
Taken all together, the degree to which the warder can be buffed to assist its master in combat is higher than for any other pet in the game - but this comes at the price of many of those buffs eventually becoming necessary in order for the pet to participate effectively.
The warder solidifies the beastlord's status as one of the game's three dedicated pet classes (alongside with the magician and the necromancer). This animal companion is the beastlord's most consistent partner in combat, and managing it effectively is crucial to the character's success.
The warder's good-all-around stats and assortment of utility proc buffs make it a strong generalist pet that brings a lot of power to any situation the beastlord faces. Unlike the magician's elemental pet, which (for instance) requires the magician to make a choice between having a pet able to root foes (earth) or able to stun them (air), or able to inflict significant melee damage at the expense of tanking (water), the beastlord's singular warder strikes a middle road among those three paths, being able to provide stuns, heavy damage, offtanking, and movement impediment (via the Hobble of Spirits AA snare) in one consistent pet.
The warder's ability to endure difficult fights with its master's help is also an important factor in its overall power. Beastlords gain more, and more powerful, ways to heal their pets than the other two primary pet classes do, and the beastlord is also tanky enough to have the tactical option of running into melee range to begin taking hits on the warder's behalf at any moment - something which a magician can nearly never do, and which a necromancer can only do well if making heavy use of lifetap spells, which tend to be inferior in terms of DPS. The Beastlord's ability to provide effective attack speed slows on the pet's behalf means the pet often has the luxury of facing a foe that is already getting its offenses weakened.
The beastlord's strong ability to heal and protect its pet makes moloing with a deadly wizard merc, rather than a cleric merc, a distinctive option for the class - whereas a magician would nearly always be better off in the company of a cleric merc instead.
The warder does, however, have its downsides compared to the four magician pets.
For starters, the warder's lack of true specialization can make it harder to employ as an effective pet tank against named foes in the highest tiers of group content, espeically if those foes do not depend heavily on spell damage (something that high-level warders are exceptionally good at enduring). This, coupled with the tendency of the the role of main healer in such fights to be taken by an actual cleric, druid, or shaman makes the tanking-specialist magician earth pet a more common pick as a pet tank for downing such foes, with the magician delivering heavier and more mana-efficient spell damage from the party's backline than the beastlord would be able to provide.
The lack of a ranged combat option for the warder makes the pet vulnerable to being devastated by AoE damage when raiding - something which magicians can often avoid by switching to a fire pet and positioning it far from a boss. This gets much easier to cope with after gaining the Spellbreaker's Guard buff line at level 75, but remains a consideration when making a beastlord for use in a progression guild or on a progression server..
There are also some other differences in innate sturdiness to consider. For starters, beastlords gain passive AAs for improving their pet's defenses more slowly than magicians do, which, particularly in the level 66 to 70 range (when this difference is at its most glaring) hurts the pet's statistical odds of tanking as well as a party might require. Once the warder's proc buffs gain the Prism Skin component at level 70, the situation starts to improve, and continues to get better as the levels go on, but earth pets remain ahead in terms of sturdiness because of their sheer base hit point count and the magician's solid lineup of passive AAs for building on that high base sturdiness.
Finally, there is the issue of recovering from a warder's death. The warder's extreme dependence on its master's buffs can make resummoning the warder after it dies during a fight a very impractical proposition, especially considering that beastlords lack any ability to root foes. Likewise, if a beastlord dies and gets a rez in order to rejoin the fight, the beastlord lacks a strong option for quickly summoning a new pet and getting that pet functional for battle in a hurry without a large investment of time and mana. This stands in contrast to a magician, with its mostly buff-independent fire pet that provides a quick and convenient pet option when rejoining a fight after a rez.