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Gearing up to Ascended

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If you already geared your character to exotic, it’s time to move up to ascended. In case it’s your first approach at gearing a character or you just want to try eng-game instanced PvE, we recommend starting with getting proper exotic items and a good build.

Ascended gear is end-game equipment and it gives you the highest amount of attributes for every attribute combination there is. Legendary items only offer additional QoL (Quality of Life), so it’s not necessary to craft those if you don’t want to.

Additionally, ascended items are account-bound, meaning you can freely transfer them between your characters to try out new builds.

Note: Hardstuck builds were designed around gear accessibility and reusability, most builds will use similar equipment across professions and sometimes even across the whole armor weight, and if it’s not possible to reach full potential of the builds, we are always trying to add Universal build that performs only slightly worse but shares majority of equipment across multiple builds.

Check out Hardstuck’s builds philosophy for more info on that.

Ascended items’ unique properties

Apart from being account-bound and offering the highest obtainable attributes in the game, ascended items introduce a unique infusion system to the game and have some interesting properties like the ability to swap their attributes for a very low price without the need of crafting new item.

Infusions

Infusions are stat-increasing items that can be slotted into infusion slots on ascended and legendary gear.

There are a total of 15 infusion slots available by default, ascended back items and rings will have to undergo an infusing process, and your rings additional attuning in order to gain up to 5 extra infusion slots for a total of 18 infusion slots.

Unlike Runes and Sigils, they provide no unique bonuses but instead a small attribute increase like agony resistance or power. This means that infusions are mostly intended for use in high-level fractals to get to 150 Agony Resistance to make Agony deal no damage. However, acquiring infusions for your favorite classes can also be a nice endgame grind to get those extra 90 stats.

You can read more about infusions in one of our introductory guides:

Removing infusions from gear is much easier than Runes or Sigils, it’s done with Infusion Extraction Device, which can be purchased from INFUZ-5959 for a measly 24Silver coin each.

Stat-Swapping

One of the best features of the Guild Wars 2 gearing system is that end-game ascended gear can be stat-swapped, allowing for easy reuse of gear when a build is outdated or if you simply wish to try something new.

Stat-swapping (and stat resetting) is done in the mystic forge, by throwing in the piece of gear along with a few materials.

Armor pieces and Weapons can be swapped to specific attribute prefixes depending on the items you use in the Mystic Forge recipe.

Note: Before explaining the process further, you need to be aware that this is destructive process, meaning ascended item placed in the Mystic Forge will be destroyed and replaced by a new one, this means two things:

  1. Any Infusion, Sigil, or Rune will be destroyed when stat-swapping, so make sure to extract really expensive ones if you wish (especially Infusions since they can be cheaply extracted with Infusion Extraction Device).
  2. Do not, under any circumstance, place a precursor item to a legendary item in the Mystic Forge, as oroginal item will be destroyed and replaced with different item and you won’t be able to craft your legendary item.

Both Weapons and Armor pieces will use a similar recipe for stat swapping:

  1. The old ascended item you want to stat-swap
  2. Anthology of Heroes
  3. 5 Globs of Ectoplasm
  4. An exotic insignia (for Armors) or an exotic inscription (for Weapons) of desired stat choice

Trinkets on their own can’t be stat-swapped like that, but you can allow re-customization of some Backpieces and Rings, which is often called “stat-resetting”.

Resetting stats is possible through infusing process designed to add one extra infusion slot to Backpiece and Rings, your Rings, however, can be additionally attuned for one extra infusion slot, allowing you to choose their attribute prefix a total of 3 times.

Note: Such stat-reset is only possible on backpacks and rings that were stat-selectable when first obtained, trinkets with pre-defined stats will still have exactly the same attributes after infusing or attuning.

Methods of acquisition

There are multiple methods of getting your ascended gear, PvE game mode will offer most options, some will be extremely cheap too, but competitive game modes won’t let you down, while both WvW and PvP offer all item types, trinkets will be most affordable (borderline free) and will require only small amount of time investment.

It’s best to start upgrading to ascended with weapons, as they will not only offer attributes increase but also higher damage through higher weapon strength, which is especially valuable for power damage builds.

After that, you might want to focus on getting your trinkets, as they require less gold investment (even zero) compared to armor or weapons and are more accessible overall.

Fast and cheap

For those of you, who want a quick list to follow, here is a short version of one of many methods of getting your first full ascended items set, each of those are described in detail later in this guide.

  • Armor & Weapons: to supplement every method listed below, invest your time into playing Raids weekly, and Fractals and Icebrood Sage Strike Missions daily for a possibility to drop ascended items, but also to earn currencies to buy missing pieces.
  • Independently start doing a collection for legendary armor to unlock free precursor ascended armor set relatively fast.
  • Finish story and Living World seasons achievements to finish Seasons of the Dragon meta-achievement for one stat-selectable ascended weapon of your choice and a…. legendary amulet!
  • Finish hidden quest after the Heart of Thorns main story for the option of ascended stat-selectable Shield, Scepter, Greatsword, Sword, or Dagger.
  • For remaining weapons, pick the End of Dragons of Path of Fire elite specialization collections that offer weapons you need.
  • Get an ascended accessory for map currency dropped in Icebrood Saga Strike missions.
  • The remaining ascended back item, two rings, and the second accessory can be quickly bought with map currencies from Living World Season 3 you earned during leveling and doing Seasons of the Dragon meta-achievement.

Those are not all, but very common, fast, and almost free methods of fully gearing your first character to ascended quality items. The rest of the Methods of acquisition section will cover those and more in detail.

Achievements and Collections

If you are just starting gearing for end-game content, it usually means that you played some story chapter, and with that, you might have already started unlocking some achievement rewards in form of ascended items (usually trinkets).

Most story chapters offer amulets with predefined attributes, which are usually not very useful in instanced PvE content, but most importantly, you have a much better option for obtaining amulet through story completion of Living World seasons 1-5 achievements via Seasons of the Dragons achievement.

Finishing Seasons of the Dragons meta-achievement require completing multiple Living World achievements found in the Current Events section. The first tier of this meta-achievement will award you with a free ascended weapon of your pick from Ascended Weapon Chest.

And while that’s very nice and all, if you’ll finish the last tier of Seasons of the Dragons achievement, you will get… free legendary amulet Prismatic Champion's Regalia with an optional amazing “prismatic” effect around your character.

This is an absolute must-have for every new player, as you won’t need any other amulet on any character ever.

Additionally, completing each “Return to” achievement will reward you with 500 of map currency for each of the Living World maps, which will allow you to buy a whole set of ascended trinkets, but we’ll cover that in more detail in the map currencies section.


A great way of getting your first ascended armor set is doing the Envoy Armor I: Experimental Armor collection achievement.

Your first set of armor requires only beating the raid bosses in Wing 1, 2, and 3, there is no gold cost or crafting involved.

Crafting subsequent sets of precursor ascended armor will require a proper crafting profession at level 500, which is a one-time investment in materials worth 30Gold coin 70Gold coin depending on profession and current Trading Post prices, but with your own materials, you can of course do it way cheaper. The fastest way of leveling your crafting profession can be calculated with gw2crafts.

On top of leveling the crafting profession, subsequent precursor armor sets will cost at least 100Gold coin in material cost to craft the armor set itself, which is still much cheaper than relying on fully crafting an armor set without any collection. During the raiding and training done for this collection, you’ll most likely cover the cost of it.

Beating the bosses in Wings 1-3 can be with exotic gear in the training or low experience group using a good build, learning about the Raid encounter,  and following our collection guide:


In a similar fashion, you can start the collection for the legendary Aurora accessory, which will unlock ascended precursor Spark of Sentience, on the way to doing so, you’ll also unlock ascended backpack The Wayfarer's Henge.

This process can be a bit costly for only one item as you’ll need 21 Xunlai Electrum Ingots, but with level 400 Jewelerr or Scribe crafting professions, you can craft them using materials you already own.

Note: It might be controversial to recommend going for Aurora collection as it’s a very lengthy one, and it first requires unlocking another long chain of achievements to get Gleam of Sentience and buying Sentient Seed from it. But doing it while hunting for achievements and doing story for first time can actually reduce the time spent on it.


Other achievements worth noting are your elite specialization collections. With a separate section in the achievement panel in the collections category, specialization collections offer stat-selectable ascended weapons used by that specialization.

We do not recommend unlocking weapons via Heart of Thorns specialization collections as they can be pricey. You need 30 Mystic Coins and a lot of map currencies.

Path of Fire and End of Dragons specialization collections on the other hand are very easy to complete, with very little time invested in playing the elite specialization and finishing multiple tasks like map completion, finishing a race, and completing a bounty, or heart quest.

Hidden quests

If you want to get your first weapon before trying Path of Fire and End of Dragons and doing the collections mentioned above, you can finish the hidden sidequest Knight of the Thorn, which is available after finishing Heart of Thorns.

King of the Thorn questline is not very hard, but it doesn’t follow the usual story guidelines including User Interface hints, instead, you have to visit Warden Leide after receiving a mail inviting you to visit ….well, let’s not spoil the story.

After that, you’ll be sent to different places where you have to be on the lookout for icon on the map.

At the end of this questline, you’ll be able to choose one of the stat-selectable Shield, Scepter, Greatsword, Sword, or Dagger.

This quest can be done by every character once, but only tour first completion will offer needed items for free from achievement rewards.

Subsequent completions on other characters will require crafting items for approximately 20Gold coin .


Another not well-known source of an ascended item hidden behind a secret questline is Rurik's Engagement Ring.

In Ember Bay (Living World Season 3 map), you can randomly find Strange Rock, a tradeable trophy (which is unusual) that can be converted into Round LumpEncrusted RingSoot-Covered Ring to finally become Rurik's Engagement Ring.

Drops

If you started playing Raids or Fractals, you’ll have a chance of dropping ascended items from there.

In Raids, most encounters have specific ascended equipment that they can drop, that item with a pre-defined attributes prefix and with special skins not available anywhere else in the game. Items dropped are usually thematically connected to the actual boss killed.

Fractals often will drop Ascended weapons or armor chest from chests awarded for completing daily fractals. Chests dropped from this source will have a selection of weapons with predefined attributes or a selection of stat-selectable armor pieces of a given type with specific prefix families like Assaulter’sDefender’sHealer’s, and Malicious.

These names will determine which type of attribute combinations will be offered by the gear (for example, Assaulter’s gear will offer a selection of attributes based on the Power stat).

Chances for those chests increase at higher fractal levels, and the 98, 99, and 100 Fractal Challenge Modes have a chance of dropping ascended trinkets with core stats.

While this method of acquiring gear is not consistent, it is very good if you are dedicated to playing instanced PvE content, as after months, sometimes only weeks, you’ll have enough equipment to gear a build or even a whole second character.

Instanced content currencies

In addition to drops from instanced content, Raids, Fractals, and even Strike Missions will award you with corresponding game-type currency, which can be used to buy same equipment that can drop in those instanced game modes.

Magnetite Shard is “raids currency”, with some additional gold you can buy any ascended item that usually drops in raids with attribute prefix family, as well as trinkets with core stats.

Those items are available from Scholar Glenna who is found in a raid instance, some items she is offering will require unlocking and successfully completing a raid encounter to be unlocked.

The Basic Magnetite Exchange Operative also offers generic, fully stat-selectable Ascended weapons or armor chest, but no items specific to a raid boss. Those generic chests are cheaper than the raid version with unique skins.


Fractal Relic and Pristine Fractal Relic are rewards for playing Fractals, especially daily ones.

Fractal Relic are easier to get as they’ll be awarded from clearing fractals and dropped at random, as little as 15 Fractal Relics can be used to purchase ascended trinkets with core attributes.

Much more rare currency, Pristine Fractal Relic, is mainly obtained by completing daily fractals and is much more valuable in the end-game, but for a new player, it offers great value as you can buy Mist Talisman, Mist Pendant, and Mist Band (Infused) with 100 Pristine Fractal Relics and 2 integrated Fractal Matrices.

Note: Mist Talisman, Mist Pendant, and Mist Band (Infused) are especially useful, as you can reset their stats at any time with Mist Capacitor that can be bought for only 10 Pristine Fractal Relics and 1 Integrated Fractal Matrix.

Those trinkets are also available to but in PvP and WvW with those game modes currencies.


The last currency, and coincidentally one of the first available to new players is Blue Prophet Shard rewarded for completing Icebrood Saga Strike missions without any daily or weekly limits for acquisition.

Blue Prophet Shards are easily farmable by doing IBS (Icebrood Saga) Strike Missions. For 150-500 Blue Prophet Shards and 5Gold coin 15Gold coin you can buy stat-selectable Ascended weapons or armor chests with Assaulter’sDefender’sHealer’s, and Malicious prefix families.

IBS Strike Missions are entry-tier boss encounters that can be done daily for bonus Blue Prophet Shards and some extra rewards, including an abundance of Eternal Ice Shards, which can buy you two ascended trinkets.

Map currencies

Most map currency vendors will have an exchange offer for at least one ascended trinket.

As mentioned above, Eternal Ice Shard is an IBS (Icebrood Saga) map currency that can be used to buy stat-selectable Asgeir's Amulet amulet and Asgeir's Talisman accessory, or it can be exchanged for Path of Fire Living World Season 4 map currencies which then can be used to buy yet another ascended trinkets like Difluorite Band, Scion-Spike Amulet, Mists-Charged Treasure, or Mistborn Band.


But when it comes to trinket availability for map currencies, nothing comes close to Heart of Thorns and Living World Season 3. Each map in this LW season has at least one trinket available for purchase, and getting each currency is relatively fast.

Every day you can harvest 15+ of Orrian Pearl, Petrified Wood, and Jade Shard each, and 35+ of Blood Ruby and Fire Orchid Blossom each.

Those are limited per day per account, but Fresh Winterberries are only limited per day per character, and each character can get 50+ of those every day on each character. This method of acquiring new trinkets is so popular, that it has its own name: Winterberry Farm.

Farming those currencies will also get you a good amount of Dragonite Ore, Empyreal Fragment, and Pile of Bloodstone Dust.

Living World Season 3 currencies can be used along with Unbound Magic to purchase a multitude of different trinkets for 100-200 of map currency (double in the case of Winterberries) and 2000-5000 Unbound Magic (be weary though, because some of them are Unique, meaning you can’t equip two of the same type at once).

It’s very important to note that Blood Ruby trinkets can be stat-swapped at any time, even after reaching a fully infused and attuned version, it’s done with single-use Bloodstone Capacitor purchased for only 100 Unbound Magic (it will reset all Blood Ruby trinkets in your inventory, it won’t reset equipped items).

Prices of all those are similar, except in the case of Winterberries, you have to pay double the amount in map currency (but the price of Unbound Magic stays the same):

Unbound Magic is very easy to get by just playing LWS3 (Season 3) content, gathering, doing zone dailies and achievements, participating in events, and doing map completion. But if you are running really short on Unbound Magic, simply farm Fresh Winterberries on multiple characters and consume them for Unbound Magic (15-30 per berry).

Note: If you decided to finish the Seasons of the Dragon meta-achievement for a free ascended weapon and a free legendary amulet, you will also get free 250-500 of each map currencies from all Living World Seasons from 1 to 5!

Guild Missions

If you are in guild actively doing Guild Missions, consider saving Guild Commendations to buy ascended accessories.

All of the accessories Guild Commendation Trader has to offer have predefined stats, you might be most interested in Althea's Ashes and Magister's Field Journal with Berserker’s stats or Celestial Sigil and Ancient Mursaat Token with Celestial stats depending on your goals.

There are also some accessories for niche condition damage builds you can purchase there.

Each can be purchased for 5Gold coin and 12 Guild Commendations.

Crafting

Weapons and armors can be crafted with level 500 crafting profession corresponding to weapon type or armor weight, leveling the profession can cost 30Gold coin 70Gold coin (with optimized leveling and depending on current Trading post prices).

You can use gw2crafts to find the cheapest or fastest way of leveling your crafting profession.

Each crafting profession will be able to craft different item types, Artificing for magic-oriented weapons (eg: Staves, Scepters), Weaponsmith for melee weapons (eg: Swords, Maces), and Huntsman for ranged weapons and weapons thematically fitting hunting (eg: Rifles, Torches, Warhorns). As for armors, it’s rather simple correlation of weight classes, Tailoring for light armor, Leatherworking for medium, and Armorsmithing for heavy.

One weapon will cost you 25Gold coin 35Gold coin in materials, and a full armor set 200Gold coin 250Gold coin .

This process is additionally time-gated by multiple once-per-day crafting components like: Spool of Silk Weaving Thread, Lump of Mithrillium, Glob of Elder Spirit Residue, and Spool of Thick Elonian Cord.

Note: If you already have the materials for those time-gated items and you levelled your crafting to 500, it’s good practice to craft those items daily, as multiple achievements and legendary items will require those later in the game.

Due to the time-gated and costly nature of crafting ascended items, we recommend avoiding crafting ascended items armor unless you wish to start doing t4 fractals, are missing 1-2 pieces, and have run out of other viable options.

When you start raiding and/or doing fractals, exotic insignias and inscriptions from Challenge Mode rewards or even from salvaging will start to pile up. Don’t sell them! They can be used to craft some ascended equipment pieces, which later can be stat-swapped.

This is a very common method of crafting new gear for different builds or multiple characters.

Grandmaster Marks

Items called Grandmaster Marks allow dedicated competitive game mode players to buy ascended armors and weapons (with the option to also get the legendary version of the armor).

Marks are items accepted by WvW, PvP, but also Fractal vendors along with other game-type specific currencies and gold, they are used to purchase exotic and ascended gear and legendary items components.

Note: This method of acquisition is extremely slow if not supplemented with crafting.

Because of a rather lengthy process of grinding Grandmaster Marks, we recommend spending WvW, PvP, and Fractal currencies on ascended trinkets like Mist Talisman, Mist Pendant, and Mist Band (Infused), which are especially useful as you can reset their stats at any time with Mist Capacitor that can be bought very cheaply for currencies used in those game modes.

Without supplementing Grandmaster Marks acquisition with crafting, this will be an extremely slow process (from half a year to over a year depending if you play one or two game modes).

With enough Grandmaster Marks, some gold, and game-type-specific currencies you dropped, you can simply buy ascended items from vendors in the PvP lobby or in any of the WvW borderlands.

WvW Skirmish Claim Tickets and Ascended Shards of Glory are awarded for completing PvP Season, and WvW Skirmish reward tracks.

Grandmaster Marks are also part of the rewards for completing the PvP Season reward track, while in WvW, only a few Grandmaster Mark Shards are awarded each week for completing some WvW Skirmish rewards. 10 Grandmaster Mark Shards can be traded for 1 Grandmaster Mark.

On average, the most limiting factor in getting those items will be getting Grandmaster Marks. For example full set of ascended armor from one of the game modes will require 20 of them. You can earn up to 3 Mark Shards from WvW, meaning you need 66 weeks (yes, over a year) of WvW to earn the required 200 Grandmaster Mark Shards, while in PvP it will take you 5 seasons (including mini-seasons) to reach the same goal, which can also take even a year.

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