Gearing up to Ascended
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 end-game instanced PvE, we recommend starting with getting proper Exotic items and a good build.
Ascended gear is Best-in-Slot (BiS) endgame equipment that gives the highest possible attributes available for every attribute combination in Guild Wars 2. Legendary items only offer additional Quality of Life (QoL), so it’s not necessary to craft those if you don’t want to.
Additionally, Ascended items are account-bound, so you can freely transfer them between your characters to try out new builds.
Note: Hardstuck Builds are designed around gear accessibility and reusability. Most of our Builds use similar equipment across Professions and sometimes even within entire Armor Weight Classes. We are always adding Universal Builds that perform only slightly worse than the Optimized versions, while having the ability to share the majority of equipment across multiple Builds.
Check out Hardstuck’s Builds Philosophy for more info on that.
Why Ascended Gear?
On top of being account-bound and Best-in-Slot, Ascended items can be Infused for additional stats and swap attributes for a relatively low price without needing to craft entirely new items.
Infusions are stat-increasing items that can be slotted into Infusion Slots found on Ascended and Legendary gear, except for Amulets.
There are a total of 15 Infusion Slots available by default. Ascended back items and rings will have to undergo an infusing process, while your rings undergo additional attuning to gain up to 5 extra infusion slots for a total of 18 infusion slots. Both of these processes can be performed by using the Mystic Forge.
Unlike Runes and Sigils, Infusions provide no unique bonuses. Instead, Infusions give a small attribute increase to a stat like Agony Resistance or Power. As such, Infusions are mostly intended for use in high-level Fractals to get to 150 Agony Resistance. At this level, a player is effectively immune to
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
Ascended gear can be conveniently stat-swapped, allowing for easy reuse of gear when a Build is outdated, or if you simply wish to try something new.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 performed 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: This is destructive process – an Ascended item placed in the Mystic Forge will be destroyed and replaced by a new one. This means two things:
- 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).
- Do not, under any circumstance, place a precursor item to a Legendary item in the Mystic Forge, as original 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:
- The old Ascended item you want to stat-swap
Anthology of Heroes
Globs of Ectoplasm
- An Exotic Insignia (for Armors) or an Exotic Inscription (for Weapons) of desired stat choice
Trinkets do not use the same recipe for stat swapping. Instead, you can re-customize some Backpieces and Rings, which is often called “stat-resetting”.
Resetting stats is possible through the infusing process designed to add one extra infusion slot to Backpiece and Rings. Rings, however, can be additionally attuned for one extra infusion slot, allowing you to choose their attribute prefix a total of 3 times.
Note: This 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 in different game modes:
- PvE offers the most options, some of which are extremely cheap.
- WvW and PvP offer all item types. Trinkets will be the most affordable in PvP and WvW (borderline free) and will require only a small amount of time investment.
It’s best to start upgrading to Ascended with weapons, as they offer both attribute increases and increased damage because of higher weapon strength, which is especially valuable for Power damage builds.
After that, focus on getting your trinkets, as they require less gold investment (sometimes zero) compared to armor or weapons, and are more accessible overall.
Fast and Cheap
Here is a short list of some common, cheaper methods to obtain your first full Ascended item set, each of which is described in detail later in this guide:
- Armor & Weapons: Earn relevant currencies and Ascended drops from Instanced Content. Play Raids each week and Fractals and Icebrood Saga Strike Missions daily. This Instanced Content allows you to use currencies to buy Ascended Armor & Weapons.
- Independently start a collection for legendary armor to unlock a free precursor Ascended Armor Set relatively quickly.
- 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 the hidden quest after the Heart of Thorns main story for the option of an Ascended stat-selectable Shield, Scepter, Greatsword, Sword, or Dagger.
- For remaining weapons, pick the End of Dragons or Path of Fire elite specialization collections that offer weapons you need.
- Obtain 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. Earn these during leveling and doing Seasons of the Dragon meta-achievement.
The following Methods of Acquisition section will cover these methods, and more, in detail.
Achievements and Collections
Playing through certain Story Chapters can unlock some achievement rewards that may provide you with some Ascended items (usually trinkets).
Most story chapters offer amulets with predefined attributes, which are usually not very useful in instanced PvE content. However, the Seasons of the Dragons achievements can award you a stat-selectable amulet through story completion of Living World seasons 1-5.
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
Upon completing the last tier of the Seasons of the Dragons achievement, you will get a free Legendary amulet
This is an absolute must-have for every new player, as you won’t need to obtain any other amulet on any character ever.
Additionally, completing each “Return to” achievements 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. We’ll cover this in more detail in the map currencies section.
If you are interested in Raids, a great way of getting your first Ascended armor set is doing the Envoy Armor I: Experimental Armor collection achievement.
This achievement provides you with a full set of Ascended armor for completing the Raid Bosses in Wing 1, 2, and 3. This collection also doesn’t require any gold or crafting.
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 30 –70 depending on profession and current Trading Post prices, as well as the cost of materials you already own. 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 100 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.
Completing Raid Wings 1-3 can be done with Exotic gear with groups that are inexperienced or in training. Make sure you have a good build, and learn about the Raid encounter. We also have a collection guide that goes into the Envoy Armor achievements in more detail:
In a similar fashion, you can start the collection for the Legendary
This process can be a bit costly for only one item as you’ll need 21
Note: It might be controversial to recommend going for
Auroracollection as it’s a very lengthy one, and it first requires unlocking another long chain of achievements to get Gleam of Sentienceand buying Sentient Seedfrom 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
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.
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 20 .
Another not well-known source of an Ascended item hidden behind a secret questline is
In Ember Bay (Living World Season 3 map), you can randomly find
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’s, Defender’s, Healer’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.
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.
Much more rare currency,
Mist Talisman, Mist Pendant, and Mist Band (Infused)are especially useful, as you can reset their stats at any time with Mist Capacitorthat can be bought for only 10 Pristine Fractal Relicsand 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
IBS Strike Missions are entry-tier boss encounters that can be done daily for bonus
Most map currency vendors will have an exchange offer for at least one ascended trinket.
As mentioned above,
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
Those are limited per day per account, but
Farming those currencies will also get you a good amount of
Living World Season 3 currencies can be used along with
Fresh Winterberry(Bitterfrost Frontier): Icebrood Horn Backpack(backpiece), Black Ice Band(ring), and Black Ice Earring(accessory) Orrian Pearl(Siren’s Landing): Coral Choker(amulet) Fire Orchid Blossom(Draconis Mons): Gilded Orchid Band(ring), Fire Orchid Garland(amulet) Petrified Wood(Ember Bay): Sparking Petrified Wood(accessory) Jade Shard(Lake Doric): Jade Pendant(amulet) Blood Ruby(Bloodstone Fen): Blood Ruby Backpack(backpiece), Blood Ruby Band(ring), Blood Ruby Pendant(amulet)
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
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
- Backpiece: 200 currency, 5000
- Amulet: 125 currency, 3000
- Accessory: 150 currency, 4000
- Ring: 100 currency, 2000
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!
If you are in a Guild actively doing Guild Missions, consider saving
All of the accessories Guild Commendation Trader has to offer have predefined stats, you might be most interested in
There are also some accessories for niche condition damage builds you can purchase there.
Each can be purchased for 5 and 12
Weapons and armor can be crafted with a level 500 crafting profession corresponding to weapon type or armor weight. Leveling the profession can cost 30 –70 (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 armor, it’s a rather simple correlation of weight classes, Tailoring for light armor, Leatherworking for medium, and Armorsmithing for heavy.
One weapon will cost you 25 –35 in materials, and a full armor set 200 –250 .
This process is additionally time-gated by multiple once-per-day crafting components like:
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.
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 Capacitorthat 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.