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The Immovable Object: Retaliation Forge Guard Build Guide

Posted By Hineroptera on August 25, 2023
Last updated on August 26, 2023



Welcome to my retaliation Forge Guard guide! When I start a new build, I like to think "what can this do that another class/mastery can't?" I remember seeing people say in chat, "PrefixPercent Damage Reflected is garbage," which was rolling around in my head. I also noticed that Forge Guard is the least popular mastery, and the guides/videos I did see were extremely underwhelming. So, I started digging in and playing around with the Sentinel and Forge Guard skills, and it turns out that one answer to "what can this class do?" is: effectively use PrefixPercent Damage Reflected!

A note about myself: I do not enjoy low corruption farming. I like builds that are effective at high corruption. I crave builds that can push the arena. This Forge Guard does both of those quite well. At time of writing I'm at 998 waves on the arena leaderboard and mid 700's corruption. I know it can go much higher in both areas. Some day I hope to finish an arena run without bugs or disconnects, and in time I expect to get into 3k+ corruption.

That said, I would not blanket recommend this build to all players. It has a slower clear time than typical meta builds for all bosses and most echoes. It is a very safe build, nearly invincible if played without taking risks, but this comes at the price of mobility.

But it is a true retaliation build: virtually all its damage output comes from enemies attacking your minions. I am the type of person who gets perverse pleasure from seeing a Siege Golem 1-shot itself, or from completing a Spire echo without moving. So for me the costs are worth it.

If this sounds like it might be you, too, then you've come to the right place!

Pros & Cons


Extremely high tank: 120-500k EHP/s, up to 2.5M 1-shot with room for growth

Damage scales with enemies

10-30s spire echo clears (except Bone)

Likes stacking enemy damage and crit echo mods

Minimal impact from enemy dodge, crit avoid, resists, endurance


Slow clears for bosses and some echoes

Huge survivability loss when not channeling Rebuke

Immobile while channeling Rebuke

Hates stacking enemy health echo mods

Gameplay / Mechanics

This build is compartmentalized into three main concerns: a defensive core that allows us to survive, and two offensive paths to handle different classes of threats.

Defense: Rebuke

This is the tank skill, made even better by the fact that is channeled. Combined with Apostate's Sanctuary, we get:

Topping out at 16k ward is very achievable. On top of armor, resists, blocking and our Armour Clad 5/5, Hammer and Anvil 5/5 and Liquid Iron 5/5 layers, this works out to absurd effective HP (EHP) levels.

Rebuke is a spell, so the % health/ward lost from Apostate's Sanctuary does trigger each time it casts. The health loss is quickly healed back, so practically it just sets an upper/lower bound where our ward will fluctuate.

Nothing in the game is going to kill you in one hit while channeling Rebuke, but there are a few damage over time abilities you have to be careful around:

  • T4 Julra's persistent void pool (these stack and eventually will overwhelm you)
  • Shade of Orobyss's meteor crush and toxic ground (if you've been stacking + damage echo mods)
  • Heorot's frost beam (breaks and prevents channeling while you're covered in icicles)
  • Large numbers of Void scorpion ground spikes (only in arena)

Other than these cases, or being completely overrun in the arena, I believe you should be pretty safe for the first 2,000-3,000 corruption levels.

Being a ward build without access to int, we use Frostbite Shackles to turn SuffixCold Resistance into ward retention.

Low-damage, low-HP enemy counter: Manifest Armor

Manifest Armor is an amazingly fun and creative skill, allowing us to roll our own monster. It has a slow attack and the skills it unlocks are fairly unimpressive. In my opinion, the real power is that it can essentially wear up to 3.4 helms, boots, gloves, and/or 2.6 body armors through its core specialization nodes.

A key element that is missing from the in-game description of Manifested Armor is its Fire Nova, which is cast every time it takes 200 damage. This is a fire spell which produces a hit in a reasonable area around the armor. There is no limit to how many times per second the nova can be cast.

To turn our nova into a murder machine, we have to do: almost nothing. Looking at Frostbite Shackles, note that at Iron Grasp 4/4 each nova will apply up to (3.4 x 143 =) 4.86 stacks of frostbite, with (3.4 x 33 =) 112% increased duration. Against swarms of low-damage enemies this can add up to 100-200 stacks of frostbite, instantly obliterating groups of weak foes, and even threatening tougher individual enemies.

The beautiful thing is that we already wanted to use the Shackles. As a starting point, your Manifested Armor doesn't need anything else. In the "Offensive" variant below I'll go into more options for increasing their damage.

High damage enemy counter: Ring Of Shields

This is what got me into the build: a desire to use PrefixPercent Damage Reflected. Unlike PrefixThorns, which returns a flat value and only on hits, % Damage Reflected is based on the actual incoming damage received and does work on damage over time. The primary source of this stat is idols: SuffixDamage Reflected For You And Your Minions. There are a number of factors that go into scaling this stat:

  • Enemy damage. We can influence this through echo modifiers, and we know this scales endlessly with corruption and arena wave
  • Number of minions. This particularly matters against enemy area attacks.
  • Minion health. Since we're reflecting actual damage taken, we're limited by Reflect % x Minion Health total damage reflected.
  • Rate of healing. As long as our minions aren't dead, any healing effectively influences total damage reflected as though it were health.
  • Minion duration. The longer they last, the more opportunity they have to maximize their damage potential.

With perfect rolls, 2x Ornate Solar Idol and 2x Grand Solar Idol give all our minions will have base 116 % Damage Reflected. We go with Manifest Shield because:

  • It has an excellent HP pool, given it has 20 / stat point after Banding 5/5 and Displacement 1/1
  • Built-in healing via Healing Shields
  • No summon cap! Up to 8x shields per cast and 32 second duration means we can generate about 1 shield per second with CDR
  • Inherits our shield stats, so we can pass on more PrefixPercent Damage Reflected and PrefixIncreased Healing Effectiveness
  • Perhaps most importantly, Ring of Shields is tagged as Instant Cast. That means we can cast it while channeling Rebuke

Because of all this, shields become our main source of damage against bosses and high-damage enemies, such as Diamond Matrons, Scalebane Saboteurs, Siege Golems, Wengari Patriarchs, and most spires.


  1. Walk/Shield Rush to find enemies
  2. Channel Rebuke to stay safe in your happy place
  3. Direct your Manifested Armor so it will be a) next to enemies and b) in their line of fire. Even if enemies are focused on you in melee, if your armor is in your space it can still get hit
  4. If you need to resummon Manifest Armor (or use any other Rebuke-breaking skill) try and cast it right before Rebuke comes off cooldown, so you'll immediately start channeling again
  5. Summon Ring Of Shields whenever it's available. You can either summon them a) stacked up around you, which is effective for keeping them healed and maximizing enemy AoE attacks, b) directly into enemy area denial skills (i.e. Heorot's ice storm, Julra's void pools, Corpse Emperor's plague storm) or c) between you and the enemies, which makes healing less effective but creates a multi-layer barrier between you
  6. If using Sigils Of Hope, I try to cast them around the midpoint of a Rebuke cycle, to avoid dipping my 1-shot EHP too much



Stat Priorities


Affixes are in priority order by slot.

Minions scale HP with both PrefixStrength and PrefixAttunement, but the latter also increases minion damage and adds healing. Coupled with the Forge Guard innate of 3% increased armor per hit received makes PrefixStrength a lower priority.

SuffixCold Resistance is nice once we have Frostbite Shackles. It will increase our max ward and effectively grant ward per second by reducing the rate of ward decay. But it is more effective at higher levels of ward, which will be low in a life or death DoT situation. So SuffixPhysical Resistance is always preferred.

Sinathia's Dying Breath is a fantastic source of physical and cold resist in the weapon slot. It also allows Manifested Armor and Weapon to double-dip the resist bonuses. Note that at lower levels it will noticeably reduce your reflected damage though. Take the best Increased Block Effectiveness you can find.

Liath's Signet and Strands of Souls can essentially be free sources of ~T7 ward retention. Thorn Slinger is mainly for the +1 to physical skills, which is minor but helps Rebuke at least. Telf'un's Mirage has some truly amazing bonuses and opens us to look at other sources of Dodge rating. Legendary Potential is essential on all of these, otherwise an exalted is going to be better.

Code of an Erased Sentinel is, of course, potentially amazing - especially for the +1 to skills and Armor Mitigation vs. Damage over Time. If you're fortunate enough to get one with useful stats, congratulations! Enjoy it! Otherwise, the innate cold resist of Argent Crest makes any solid exalted fantastic.

Cradle of the Erased is also fantastic if you can get affixes that actually matter. Given that we are stacking both Physical and Cold resist, the +2 Block Effectiveness per total uncapped resist ends up being massive, especially with the bonus block effectiveness from Sinathia's.


The more important affix for each idol type is listed first. Just take the best roll you can find for that affix. The secondary affix is low priority.


The choices here are pretty minor, but to help you weigh them:

The Black Sun: Dodge rating has a minor impact on hit survivability. Health technically helps (very slightly) against DoTs and 1-shots.

Ending the Storm: Ward per second helps against DoTs and adds some EHP outside of combat. Ward chance when hit helps more when being swarmed in the arena.

Reign of Dragons: if you can find the crit avoidance in your gear, go for resists. Otherwise just take the avoid.

Build Variants


Leveling a Forge Guard is pretty fun. The route I went is:

  1. Use the biggest, meanest 2h weapon you can. PrefixIncreased Melee Attack Speed helps a lot
  2. Specialize Forge Strike with (in priority order): Well Forged Weapons 4/4, Heavy Strike 5/5, Forged by Fire 4/4, Engines of War 5/5
  3. Specialize Multistrike with: Heated Forge 1/1, Doctrine of the Anvil 1/1, Relentless Advance 3/3, Way of the Sword 5/5, Guarding Stance 5/5
  4. Specialize Volatile Reversal with Harbinger of Dust 3/3, Timelost Wisdom 1/1, Incipient Void Rift 1/1
  5. Max out Folded Steel 10/10 and Smelter's Might 10/10
  6. Focus your gear and passives on stacking PrefixAttunement, PrefixStrength and offensive Minion stats

Multistrike is the most consistent method to quickly summon Weapon minions that I found. Just get to 4 armament stacks, use Forge Strike, repeat.

Volatile Reversal adds a significant damage multiplier debuff to support your army.

This should get you to legendary monoliths and through low corruption. I would use the rest of your specializations and passives to add to your defensive bulk, but leveling is a great time to explore and familiarize yourself with how other skills work.

Thornshell + Thornmail 8/8 is also very viable when it becomes available if you're eager to start retaliating. It will eventually start to drop off though, and minions don't inherit any core attributes so it's rather worthless on Manifest Shield.

If you want to start using Rebuke, just note that before you get Apostate's Sanctuary healing will be your source of sustain.



I recommend picking pieces from the Offensive variant, based on what's available to you. Shield Rush makes traversing echoes faster, and Volatile Reversal helps a lot with clear times.

As corruption grows and you're stacking enemy damage mods, you will have to be more cautious when you don't have Rebuke up. Ideally, channel Rebuke once for its full duration before running around.

If a setup is too boring (e.g. 3 bone spires) it's OK to just portal out and reload.

Focus on learning which enemies have big AoE attacks and actually need Ring Of Shields to kill quickly.

Added enemy health (without added damage), and particularly with "and focus on attacking the player," are pretty annoying modifiers.

Damage modifiers are great, but do be careful in the Orobyss fights. Lots of increased damage can lead to death especially from the meteor crush and poisoned ground attacks.

If you are caught channeling in one of these high-damage DoTs, just hold the course: death is very likely if you drop Rebuke's damage reduction.


For most monolith and dungeon bosses you can just sit in one place, summon Manifest Shield into their high damage AoEs, and resummon Manifested Armor during breaks. Some special notes:

  • Julra's persistent ground void DoT will stack and eventually kill you. When she starts channeling her time crush ultimate I will usually just swap timelines and move a bit so these patches don't build up or overlap.
  • You can 100% absorb Julra's time crush hit, but note that it also adds 4 stacks of Doom to you (and thus you take 16% increased damage, in addition to the base damage). Do not stop channeling Rebuke until you cleanse the DoT or it wears off.
  • Heorot's channeled ice beam adds a debuff that seems to break and prevent your channeling. It's the only thing I've encountered that can interfere with Rebuke, which is very disorienting. Use Shield Rush to stay out of his AoE and relocate quickly when hit by the beam.

Loot Filter

Here is a starting point with key stats and item bases: https://pastebin.com/zmxrEp2w

Over time, I recommend narrowing the scope of the filter. For example, you can make a rule for each gear slot and then tune if you're looking for a particular exalted affix, base item, minimum affix level to try forging, and so on.


Why not use Shield Throw with Manifest Armor?

Manifest Inspiration is a great option and synergizes well with our goal of adding ailments on hit to MA, but would require a very different build. It doesn't line up with my bubble-boy goal of staying inside Rebuke, and is not compatible with Hammer and Anvil.

Why not use Defiance of the Forgotten Knight for more DoT?

You certainly can, but I think the impact will be minimal since there is no way to scale the Shield slot on Manifest Armor so the two ~25% rolls are going to pale in comparison to 400%+ Ignite/Frostbite from Calamity/Frostbite Shackles. The shield actually is interesting on Ring Of Shields, except they don't have any of the % increased damage that MA does, and Time Rot only stacks 12 times.



  • Add FAQ on Defiance of Forgotten Knight
  • Add note on Telf'un's mirage
  • Just kidding, whirlwind strike seems bad in practice
  • Build guide was published


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