I am building my Gaurdian to be very tanky but I can't help but wonder. Which stat provides more survivability? Toughness or Vitality? Is it situational?

  • Short answer, Vitality. There are armor-ignoring attacks, and Vitality will serve you better against those. However, Toughness does increase your effective health when it's not ignored. So invest in both trait lines leaning a little more on Vitality. Unfortunately the math on armor is not set in stone, so I can't give numbers. The good news is that most items in Guild Wars 2 provide both Toughness and Vitality in equal amounts (Hearty weapons, Lapis accessories), so you probably won't have to make a choice between the two in gear, only in trait lines. – Sadly Not Sep 27 '12 at 1:54
  • Yep for my guardian i placed my trait lines full in the vitality and toughness tree. Nice survivability with a 2 hander. – Lyrion Sep 27 '12 at 6:24

There are some trade-offs. Overall, I consider Vitality to be a little better, but it will depend on your build, as well as the enemy you're fighting.


  • Toughness reduces the amount of damage you take from a given attack. Builds that focus on toughness will have a smaller health pool, but receive less damage to make up for it.
  • The main disadvantage of stacking toughness is that some attacks ignore it. This includes damage over time from conditions.
  • The main advantage of toughness is that it keeps your health pool smaller, allowing you to heal more efficiently.


  • Vitality increases your health pool. Builds that focus on vitality will take more damage than toughness builds, but are able to absorb more before dying.
  • The main advantage of vitality-heavy builds is that the extra health cannot be circumvented, like toughness can.
  • The main disadvantage of vitality is that a huge health pool is more difficult to heal up.


It's probably wise to have some mix of these two stats. In general, I would favor Vitality. Of course, the more you have of both, the more tanky you will be.

If you have ways to mitigate damage-over-time conditions, Toughness might be advantageous, since you can avoid much of the downside. Likewise, if you have very poor healing ability, you might want to stack Toughness so you don't have a massive health pool you're unable to refill.

If you have ample heals, especially some form of continuous healing, Vitality will probably be more advantageous, as you can keep that huge health pool refilled.

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    Actually, constant healing (like the Guardian has access to), makes Toughness more valuable (and overhealing is rarely an issue in Guild Wars). The reason is simple: you can think of Toughness as multiplying your hitpoints, in terms of effective health. This makes heals on a target with lots of toughness provide a greater increase in "Effective Health" than if they had mostly vitality alone. – Raven Dreamer Sep 29 '12 at 22:01
  • Suggested addition: Toughness makes you better against flat damage attacks, but Vitality makes you better against condition damage-over-time (which is "true" damage). – Corey Csuhta Oct 1 '12 at 19:45
  • Also worth noting is some classes have more base HP than others. For classes like Necro and Warrior who have the most HP, I think it's more useful to up Toughness. – AHungerArtist Oct 4 '12 at 14:46

A tanky guard needs:


Regen - from traits (Absolute Resolution!), food, and Runes (Dolak for example)

Healing - Healing Points!, Mace, traits AH or Monks, dodge heals,

Condition removal or/and Condition duration reduction.


I find 3,400 toughness good enough to take a burst and to survive. You need passive healing and several active heals, plus dodge rolls to heal. Guardians have silly amounts of healing if traited so. Balancing your other play styles to suit is the key.

Personally I rate Toughness over Vitality as it also plays into high crit builds with Retributive Armor. I melt less in sPvP!

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