Home > Class Analysis > Mirror WAR – IB v. BG

Mirror WAR – IB v. BG

Onto the Ironbreaker (IB) and Blackguard (BG), two tank classes with a mechanic revolving around letting a friend get beat on, building a secondary pool of points off of their suffering, and then using this pool of said friend’s suffering to beat the snot out of your enemy. As with other tanks the left mastery tree is devoted to offensive abilities, the middle mastery tree to defensive abilities, and the right mastery tree is class unique.

Core Abilities

  • Aside from the standard taunt, challenge, guard, etc. the IB and BG have two core abilities which tie into their mechanic – both identical. The first one being the ‘Oathfriend’ for the IB and the ‘Dark Protector’ for the BG – this is the buff that is placed on a group-member which helps generate the secondary pool of points. The second shared core ability is one that turns these points (Gruges/Hatred) into Action Points at a converstion of 40 Grudges/Hatred to 160AP.


  • For M1 the IB has Rock Clutch is which is a 680 damaging ability with a 7 second root, 3 seconds shorter than the standard tank M1 Champion’s Challenge. For M2 the IB has Skin of Iron which reduces the amount of damage they take to 1 for 5 seconds. For Morale 3 the IB has Gromril Plating which is an 8160 absorb bubble for the IB lasting 20 seconds.
  • The BG for M1 gets Banish Weakness which cleanses all curses, hexes, and ailments and recovers 50 AP and 300 health for every effect removed (akin to the SW’s Lileath’s Forgiveness, but with a much higher potential for AP and health recovery). For M2 the BG has Away, Cretins! which deals 680 damage and knocks back all enemies within 30 feet of the BG. For M3 the BG has Armor of Eternal Servitude which increases the BG’s armor by 1138 for 20 seconds and restores 2720 health over this time  (136 HP/s).


  • IB
    • Dwarven Riposte – On parry, you build 30 Grudges
    • Long Held Grudge – All attacks cause additional hate, based on Grudge
    • Long Reach – Shield Swipe & Rune Etched Axe (both 25ft AoE cone attacks) gain 5 feet in range
    • Relentless Training – Grudging Blow (rank 1 hate building attack) and Heavy Blow (3s DoT) cost 15AP less
    • Rising Anger – You build 5 Grudges per attack
    • Seasoned Veteran – On block, you take 85% damage for 5 seconds
    • Seen It All Before – Snares last 50% of their duration on you, and critical hits deal 15% less damage to you
    • Sweet Revenge – Your chance to critically hit is 15% higher if you are above 50 grudges
  • BG
    • Crush Vitality – Your attacks have a 25% chance to lower your enemy’s auto-attack speed by 20% for 10 seconds
    • Efficient Slaughter – Abilities that cost Hate cost 5 less Hate
    • Endless Pursuit – On disrupt your speed is increased by 30% for 5 seconds and you gain 40AP
    • Malekith’s Bulwark – Reduces magical damage you take to 75% but reduces incoming heals by 15% also
    • Pitiless Feeding – Pitiless Strike (toughness debuff), Mind Killer (willpower/intelligence debuff), and Terrifying Foe (toughness buff tactic) have their duration increased by 10 seconds
    • Simmering Anger – You gain 10 Hate every time an enemy critically hits you, can only proc once a second
    • Swift Fury – Attacks that use hate have a 25% to increase your AP regen by 100% for 5 seconds
    • Thirst for Death – On crit you gain 10 Hate


  • The left tree for both classes focuses on offensive attacks. Comparing abilities across the IB/BG trees is a little more difficult as some abilities have additional modifiers based on Grudge/Hate that the mirror does not share.
  • Of the shared or quasi-shared core abilities we have:
    • A 10 second 40% snare, though the Ironbreaker’s is better. Binding Grudge costs 20 AP, deals a burst 675 damage and an additional 10s DoT based on grudge ranging from 780 to 1210 damage. The BGs costs 25 AP, deals 660 damage over 10 seconds. Both are in essence snares, but the Ironbreakers has a higher damage value.
    • An armor reduction based on Grudge/Hate, ranging from 200 to 800 armor reduced (more with mastery points). The IB’s Stone Breaker lasts 20 seconds, the BG’s Horrific Wound  has no time in its tool-tip, though presumably it is the same.
    • Both classes have a 25 foot AoE swing though that is about all they share. The IB’s Rune-Etched Axe costs 30AP with a 5s CD, ignores between 25% to 100% of the enemies’ armor based on grudge, and has a tool-tip value of 317. The BG’s Monstrous Rending costs 30 Grudge and has no cool-down, and has a tool-tip value of 408.
  • Of the not shared core abilities we have:
    • The IB has Heavy Blow which costs 35AP and deals 404 base damage with an additional 3 second DoT based on Grudge ranging from 504-603 damage. The IB’s last ability is Knee Capper which costs 30AP and has a 5s CD and deals 397 tool-tip damage and reduces the target’s chance to critically hit based on Grudge, ranging from 5% crit reduction to 20%.
    • The BG in comparison has Pitiless Strike which costs 20 Hatred and 461 damage and reduces the enemy’s toughness for 20 seconds. The other ability the BG has is Murderous Wrath which costs 40AP, deals 40` damage and ignores 25% of the target’s armor.
  • Of the mastery abilities no abilities are shared
    • The Ironbreaker gets: at MR5 Ancestor’s Fury which increases the strength by 108 and chance to critically hit by 10% for 10 seconds of the IB and their Oathfriend if they are within 50 feet; at MR9 Cave-In which requires a great weapon and knocks their target down for 3 seconds and deals a 5 second DoT based on Grudge ranging from 330 to 890 damage; and at MR13 Grudge-Born Fury which is a 3 second channeled ability modified by Grudge, increasing its chance to critically hit from 5% to 20%.
    • The Black Guard gets: at MR5 Blade of Ruin which costs 15 Hate and requires a block or parry and deals 1170 damage over 10 seconds; at MR9 Enraged Beating which is the BGs 3s channeled attack that deals 282 damage every .5 seconds and any critical hits restore 10 Hate; and at MR13 Crimson Death which requires a great-weapon and 30 Hate and is a 40 foot cleave that deals 689 damage and increases the chance to be critically hit by 10% of of all enemies hit.
  • For mastery tactics we again have no parity
    • The IB gets: at MR3 Overprotective which whenever your Oathfriend is attacked there is a 25% you will toss a vicious glare at the attacker (super vicious) and deal 151 damage to them; at MR7 Powered Etchings which makes Rune Etched Axe (25 foot cleave) an AoE knock back and it snares your targets by 40% for 10 seconds; and at MR11 Greataxe Mastery which increases your parry by 5% and damage dealt by 10% when using a great-weapon.
    • The BG gets: at MR3 Monstrous Ruin which reduces the cost of Blade of Ruin (10s DoT requiring block or parry) and Monstrous Rending (25 foot cleave) by 10 Hate (to 5 and 20 Hate respectively); at MR7 Filled With Fury which increases the BG’s chance to critically hit by 15% for 5 seconds when they use an ability requiring Hate; and at MR11 Hastened Doom which on critical hits causes your target to lose 120 Wounds for 10 seconds and when using Murderous Wrath (25% armor ignore) or Pitiless Strike (toughness debuff) your auto-attack is increased by 50% for 10 seconds.
  • Lastly we have the M4’s which again are not alike. The IB has Axe Slam which is a 65 foot cone attack dealing 2720 damage; the BG has Blast of Hatred which is a 40 foot cone attack dealing 2720 damage over 15 seconds and snaring all enemies hit by 40% for 15 seconds.


  • The middle tree for both classes emphasizes defensive attacks and shield usage.
  • Of the shared or quasi-shared core abilities we have:
    • Both classes have a standard hate building ability which costs 30 AP, the IB’s Grudging Blow deals 394 damage while the BG’s Hateful Strike deals 371 damage.
    • A knock-down. The IB’s costs 35AP, requires a block or parry and has a fixed rate of a 3 second knock-down and deals 484 damage. The BG’s Spiteful Slam costs 25AP, requires a block, deals 461 damage and can knock the target down between 2 and 5 seconds, modified by Hate.
    • A knock-back. The IB’s Away With Ye costs 25 Grudges, has a 10s CD, and deals 544 damage with a very long range knock back. The BG’s Exile on the other hand costs 30AP, has a 20s CD, and deals 461 damage with a knock back modified by Hate ranging from a short range to a mile-long knock-back.
    • A 20s toughness buff. The IB has Vengeful Strike which costs10 Grudges, no CD, and increases the toughness of the IB and his Oathfriend if he is within 50 feet by 93. The BG has Feeding on Weakness which costs 30AP, has a 5s CD, and increases the toughness of the BG and his Dark Protector if he is within 50 feet; this ability also heals the BG and his DP based off of the BG’s Hatred ranging from 25% of the damage dealt to 75%.
  • The one non-shared core ability we have:
    • The IB has Shield Swipe which costs 25 Grudges, has a 10s CD, and deals 395 damage to up to three targets, restoring 10 Grudges per target hit.
    • The BG has Crush the Weak which is a mirror of the IB’s Knee-Capper in the Vengeance tree, it deals damage and reduces the target’s chance to critically hit based off of Hate ranging from 5% crit reduction to 20%.
  • Of the mastery abilities no abilities are shared.
    • The IB has: at MR5 Oathbound which costs 15 Grudges and increases the Initiative by 72 and chance to parry by 25% for 10 seconds of the IB and his Oathfriend if he is within 50 feet of the IB; at MR9 Avenging the Debt which costs 20 Gruges, deals 529 damage and if your enemy dies by this ability you and your Oathfriend regain 471 health; and at MR13 Oathstone which costs 45 AP, has a 30s CD, requires a shield, and guarantees that the next four attacks within 10 seconds will be blocked and the IB deal damage back to the attacker based off of Grudges, ranging from 327 to 816 damage dealt back.
    • The BG has: at MR5 None Shall Pass which requires a shield, costs 20AP/s with a 10s cast and 30s cool-down, increases the BG’s chance to block by 50% during the cast time, and if any attack is block regenerates 5 Hate for the BG and deals 171 damage back to the attacker; at MR9 Force of Fury which has no cost and a 20s CD, increases the BG’s armor by 990 for 10 seconds and reduces their chance to be critically hit based off of Hate, ranging from 15% chance to be crit reduction to 45%; and at MR13 Wave of Scorn which costs 55AP, has a 20s CD and is a 40 foot cone attack that deals 387 damage and snares all targets hit by 40% for 10 seconds.
  • Of the tactics again none are shared.
    • The IB has: at MR3 Furiuos Reprisal which gives Shield of Reprisal (Knockdown) the additional effect of increasing the target’s cool-downs by 5 seconds for 5 seconds; at MR7 Oath of Vengeance which makes Vengeful Strike (toughness buff) affect all allies within 20 feet of your Oathfriend; and at MR11 Shield Mastery which increases the IB’s chance to block by 10% and reduces the amount of damage the IB takes to 95% while using a shield.
    • The BG has: at MR3 Terrifying Foe which makes Hateful Strike (base hate building attack) also increase your toughness for 20 seconds based off of your Hate, ranging from 15 to 45%); at MR7 Feeding on Pain which reduces the AP cost of abilities based off of your current health, from a 25% AP reduction to 75% reduction; and at MR11 Anger Drives Me which increases the BG’s chance to parry by 3% per 10 Hate, for a maximum of 30% parry increased.
  • For the morale 4’s we again have two very different morales. The IB has Strength in Numbers which increases the IB’s chance to block by 100% for 10 seconds and his group’s chance to dodge, parry, disrupt by 25% for 10 seconds. The BG has Khaine’s Warding which makes it so that anytime anyone in the group blocks, the whole group regains 1360 health instantly.


  • The right tree’s for both classes are both different in essence. The Ironbreaker’s tree focuses solely on buffing their Oathfriend. Prior to recent changes the Blackguard’s tree focused an anti-magic hunting, but recent changes brought it slightly in line with the IB giving it some Dark Protector buffing abilities.
  • There is one shared or quasi-shared core ability:
    • An attack which increases strength, and willpower with Grudges/Hate. The IB has Inspiring Attack which costs 35AP, has a 5s CD and increases strength  of the IB and his Oathfriend, and additionally increases  Willpower based off of the IB’s Grudges. The BG’s Brutal Smash is an exact mirror of the IB ability with a slightly lower tool-tip damage-value.
  • The remaining abilities are unique for each class.
    • The IB has: Guarded attack which costs 35AP and increases the IB’s and his Oathfriend’s armor by 767 for 20 seconds; Stubborn as stone which costs 5 Grudges and increases the IB’s and his Oathfriend’s corporeal resistance by 292 for 20 seconds and any time the IB is hit by a magical attack with this buff on their auto-attack is increased by 50% for 20 seconds; Watch An’ Learn which costs 15 Grudges and increases the weapon skill of the IB and his Oathfriend for 10 seconds and anytime the IB hits an enemy with this buff on his Oathfriend regains 25AP; and lastly Punishing Blow which costs 40AP and deals 91 damage to the enemy every second they are moving.
    • The BG has: Mind Killer which costs 35AP and reduces the target’s willpower and intelligence for 20 seconds and stacks three times; Shield of Rage which costs 15 Hate and gives the BG a 750 absorb bubble for 10 seconds; Crushing Anger which costs 35AP, has a 10s CD, interrupts the target, and reduces their AP based off of Hate ranging from 10 AP lost to 30AP lost; and lastly Furious Howl which costs 30 Hate, has a 10s CD, and is a 30 foot cone attack that reduces the block and parry of all targets his by 10% for 15 seconds.
  • Of the mastery abilities, one is shared.
    • Both classes at MR13 have a self heal that consumes their Grudge/Hate at a rate of 10 per 3 seconds; the ability lasts 30 seconds or ends if the character runs out of their secondary pool of points. The IB’s is called Grumble An’ Mutter, the BG’s is called Bolstering Hate.
    • The IB has: at MR5 Runic Shield which costs 30 Grudges and absorbs 727 magical damage for 10 seconds, also affecting the Oathfriend, and the IB regains 15 Grudges anytime he is hit with a magical attack; at MR9 Earthshatter which costs 25AP, has a 20s CD, snares all enemies within 30 feet by 40% for 10 seconds, and deals damage based on hate ranging from 252 to 702 damage.
    • The BG has: at MR5 Choking Fury which costs 20 Hate, has a 20s CD, and increases the victim’s AP on the next ability by +20AP used within 10 seconds; and at MR9 Elite Training which guarantees that the BG’s next four attacks within 10 seconds are parried, and anytime an attack is defended against in this time frame (blocks included) all group-mates within 100 feet regain AP based on Hate, from 5 to 15 AP.
  • For Tactics one is shared.
    • Both MR7 abilities affect an existing ability and cause it to reduce the target’s outgoing heals by 50% for 20 seconds. The IB’s Punishing Knock affects Inspiring Attack (Strength/Willpower buff), and the BG’s Soul Killer affects Mind Killer(Willpower/Intelligence Debuff).
    • The IB gets: at MR3 Avalanche which increases the IB’s movement speed by 30% for 5 seconds anytime he disrupts an attack;  and at MR11 Told Ya So! which on critical hits regains 25AP for any group-members within 100 feet and it cannot proc more than once every 3 seconds.
    • The BG gets: at MR3 Unstoppable Fury which automatically dispells detaunts; at MR11 Shielding Anger which increases the BG’s chance to disrupt attacks by 3% per 10 Hate, for a max of +30% disrupt.
  • For morale 4’s neither are shared. The IB’s Earthen Renewal regenerates 1356 Hit Points and 240 Action Points over 9 seconds (150HP/s & 26.6AP/s). The BG’s In Malekith’s  Name silences all targets within 30 feet for 5 seconds and deals 2040 damage.


To compare the Ironbreaker and the Blackguard one would have to do so on multiple levels. First off all we compare the classes by their mechanic and its effect. What I mean by this is how Grudges/Hate affect the class; this includes abilities modified by the amount of Grudges/Hate the character has and abilities that consume Grudges/Hate. Before I jump into this analysis let me first explain the Grudges and Hate acquisition. The BG builds 5 Hate on being hit, 10-3 Hate on attack (regardless of if it connects), and builds 5 Hate on when their DP is hit. The IB builds 5 Grudges on being hit, 10 to 3 on his Oathfriend being hit (depending on how many Grudges the IB has), and can slot a tactic to build 5 Grudges when he attacks. Thus a BG can build Hate faster solo, and extremely fast with a DP; the IB needs an Oathfriend to match the solo BG’s rate of gain, and needs a tactic to match the gain of a BG with a Dark Protector – so in terms of secondary-pool acquisition the BG wins.

Let’s first look at the abilities amplified by the secondary pool. The Ironbreaker has 10 abilities enhanced by the amount of Grudges they have; 7 in Vengeance (dps tree), 1 in Stone (defense tree), and 2 in Brotherhood; of these 10 abilities modified by Grudges, only one also affects their Oathfriend. One can make the argument that one IB tactic is also modified by Grudges, but I would not say it is modified by Grudges, but rather than conditional on Grudges. The Blackguard has 9 abilities and 4 tactics modified by their Hate; 1 ability in Malice (dps tree), 5 abilities and 3 tactics in Loathing (defense tree), and 3 abilities and 1 tactic in Anguish; of these 13 modifiers  only one also affects their Dark Protector – incidentally the same ability for both the IB and BG is modified by their secondary pool that affects their ‘partner’. By this breakdown we can deduct that the Ironbreaker as they build Grudges is meant to focus on their offensive tree, while the BG as it builds Hate is directed towards their defensive tree.

Secondly we look at the abilities that consume the secondary pool of points. As a side note, most IBs and BGs opt to not consume their secondary pool of points as it is more advantageous to keep a topped off pool as to enhance their abilities that are modified by the pool, consuming these points is often done when the situation is dire and requires these abilities.  The Ironbreaker has 10 abilities which consume Grudges; 1 in Vengeance, 5 in Stone, and 4 in Brotherhood. The Blackguard has 8 abilities which consume Hate; 4 in Malice, 0 in Loathing, and 4 in Anguish. If one is to accept that secondary-pool consumption is not desirable, which some may disagree with, then we can see a negative reaction to these abilities and their related trees. Where abilities that are modified by Grudges/Hate pull a person to that tree, as speccing into it will only reap better rewards, abilities that consume Grudges/Hate push a person away from that tree as doing so would weaken the potential of many other abilities. This however is not entirely true for the Blackguard.

Given that acquiring Grudges/Hate is the goal of these classes we have already discussed how the points are acquired and how they affect the class both in abilities modified by them or abilities that require these points to be used. As I said before, the IB has to slot a tactic to be on par with the BG’s Hate building, other than that the IB has only one other tactic which affects Grudges, and that is one that builds Grudges off of parry. However, aside from Oathbound in the Stone tree, and IB doesn’t have many other avenues of increasing his parry to take advantage of Dwarven Ripost much and the IB doesn’t really have other abilities affecting his Grudge acquisition or cost. The BG on the other hand can slot a tactic to lower the cost of all abilities require Hate by 5 Hate, or a tactic that builds hate on being crit, or a tactic that builds hate on critting. It appears in the end that building Hate for a BG is far easier than it is for an IB to build Grudges.

Shifting focus away from the Grudge/Hate discussion we look at the secondary component of the IB and the BG – their ‘partner’ system. The Ironbreaker has an Oathfriend which generates Grudges for him whenever he or she is hit; the Blackguard likewise has a Dark Protector which does the same for Hate generation. Most importantly for this portion of the discussion however is not what the Oathfriend or Dark Protector do for the IB and BG, but rather what the IB and BG do for their ‘partners’. The Blackguard can buff his DP’s toughness and slightly heal him with the same ability, and he can buff his DP’s strength and willpower. The Ironbreaker on the other hand can buff his Oathfriend’s strength and chance to critically hit, toughness, initiative and parry, armor, strength and weapon skill, corporeal resistance, weapon skill and AP regen, slightly heal his Oathfriend, throw a magic absorb bubble on his Oathfriend, and lastly slot a tactic to damage his Oathfriend’s attacker (however horrid the tactic is). Do you see the disparity here?It is also worth mentioning here that some of the things a BG cannot buff for his DP, a Black Orc can buff for his defensive target – the BO’s mirror, the SM, can do virtually nothing for his defensive target or his group.

Mastery tree for mastery tree the IB and BG share little in terms of abilities. They share no core tactics or morales. Almost every BG morale beats its IB morale mirror – Rock Clutch being inferior to Champions Challenge and inferior to the all-cleansing power of Banish Weakness; Skin of Iron lasting a paltry 5 seconds while Away, Cretins! has greater implications given the terrain; Gromril Plating however holds sway over Armor of Eternal Servitude, though neither really holds sway over Distracting Bellow, even the IB M4’s seem questionable in the light of their BG mirrors. The competition between the IB and BG however isn’t really determined by morale abilities or tactics, but rather by their role in combat and how their mechanic reinforces this role.

Using the modifier method of giving more importance to abilities modified by Grudge/Hate we can deduct which tree is more fitting for each class. Secondly, using the ‘partner’ system as a second factor we can judge the class in terms of party utility. The Ironbreaker’s Vengeance tree has more modifiers in it, leading one to believe that this tree is ideal. The Stone tree pales in comparison to the defensive potential a Blackguard can achieve in Loathing (particularly with the three tactics modifying defensive characteristics – toughness, parry, and disrupt). Secondly the IB can buff the hell out of their Oathfriend, buffs made stronger by speccing into Brotherhood – leading a lethal partnership. Looking at the Blackguard we see a modifier emphasis on the Loathing tree and very little in terms of what they can do for their DP. The secondary role the BG takes on is situational – given an enemy group heavy on casters, Anguish is very appealing; given an enemy group heavy on non-casters Malice could have some potential.

So are the Ironbreaker and the Blackguard mirrors? In mechanic, I suppose you can say they are, though the BG excels at Hate acquisition, while the IB excels at Oathfriend buffing. However I truly believe that they fulfill different roles in combat. I believe that the Ironbreaker by nature is meant to be stronger at DPS, particularly paired with another dps class whom the IB can buff to increase their damage potential. The Blackguard on the other hand is stronger as a defensive tank and given his defensive nature could truly pose a lethal menace amongst enemy casters. In the end I would be inclined to say that the IB and BG only truly mirror each other in mechanic and not so much in abilities and performance.

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  1. zizlak
    April 8, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    “The BG gets: at MR3 Unstoppable Fury which automatically dispells detaunts;”

    This is something I think that makes the BG exceptional in DPS-Spec.. and why I think that the BG is stronger in offensive than the IB. The IB is definitely no weak career, but the average damage-increase with this tactic is huge if you ask me as a healer who is being harassed often by two-handed weapon wielding BG’s 😉

    • April 8, 2011 at 10:01 AM

      Yeah, a BG specced for caster/healer harassment can be a very deadly thing, oddly Order doesn’t really have the same role existent among its tanks

  2. Dilek
    April 8, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    I know I’m shallow but I just love your picture pairings. =)

    I will also have to agree that there is nothing worse than a healer/caster killer BG.

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